A TEENAGER who was 15 years old when he sent two sexually explicit messages via Facebook to a girl who was a year younger than him has been put on Probation for two-and-a-half years.

Nathan McDonagh, now 18 years old, of Kesh Road, Irvinestown, pleaded guilty to two counts of being a non-adult and inciting a child between the ages of 13 and 16 to engage in sexual activity on July 10 and 13, 2015.

Fermanagh Magistrates Court heard that the charges related to two Facebook messages received by the injured party, that were sent from the defendant’s own account on the social networking website.

In the first message, sent on July 10, McDonagh asked the girl if he could perform a sexual activity if they were GS [going steady].

The defendant then asked: “Do you want to go steady?”

His victim responded: “Do you realise I’m in second year?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

McDonagh contacted the girl over Facebook again three days later.

On this occasion he asked her if they could perform a sexual activity “when we meet up”, to which she replied: “Nope.”

The prosecutor told the court that the defendant was 15 years old at the time of the offences, while his victim had just turned 14.

When he was interviewed by the police in June 2016, nearly a year afterwards, he admitted sending the messages, but said he had been joking and nothing would have happened.

After district judge Nigel Broderick asked why it was a year before an interview took place, the prosecutor told the court that the matter had not been reported to the police until early 2016.

She added that, following the interview, a file had been allocated to a senior prosecutor in December 2016.

The prosecutor also confirmed that there had been no repetition of the offending between the defendant and this complainant since July 2015.

Defending solicitor, Michael Fahy, told the court that he was not happy with the “inordinate delay” in the case, given that his client was a young person facing an allegation of a grave nature.

The solicitor said he was also objecting to a request to impose a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) on his client.

Mr. Fahy argued that a SOPO was not necessary as, in this case at its height, the contact had been by social media, there had been no physical contact and there had been no further offending since.

District judge, Nigel Broderick, observed that the offence was a “serious matter” involving a complainant who was 14 years old, which had occurred in July 2015 when the defendant was also a juvenile.

The judge said that, thankfully, there was no contact between the two and the matter ended there.

Mr. Broderick said that, after giving the matter careful consideration, he would impose a two-and-a-half year Probation Order.

The judge added that he was “not minded” to impose a SOPO on McDonagh.

He explained that a SOPO would only be made if there was evidence of serious physical or psychological harm.

While Mr. Broderick noted that there were “serious elements” to the offending, he added that there had been no actual contact between the defendant and his victim.