By Aoife Nic Ardghail
A Bulgarian circus worker who had sex with an underage girl in Cork will be sentenced later this month for defilement.
Tsvetomir Velikov (42) told gardaí that the then 16-year-old girl and her friend claimed they were overage, but they did appear younger.
He admitted during an interview that he had been reckless about their ages.
Velikov, a Bulgarian national with an address at Coolfore Road, Ardbraccan, Navan, Co Meath, pleaded guilty on his trial date at the Central Criminal Court to defiling a female under the age of 17 at a Cork town on February 28, 2015.
He has no previous convictions in Ireland or Bulgaria.
The court heard that the girl, who was a week off her 17th birthday, and her 15-year-old friend had arrived at the circus after consuming “a considerable amount” of vodka.
Sergeant Mary Skehan told Alice Fawsitt SC, prosecuting, that the girls were whistled at and then invited into a caravan with about six circus workers.
The girls were given more alcohol here before the 16-year-old went to a different caravan with Velikov and her friend left with another circus worker, Ivan Peev (34).
Peev, a Bulgarian national, also of Coolfore Road, got a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for defiling the then 15-year-old in a circus caravan on the same date.
Sgt Skehan said CCTV footage of the girls leaving the circus afterwards showed them appearing very drunk and holding each other up.
A mother and daughter encountered the girls and took them to a garda station because they appeared so intoxicated.
Sgt Skehan said these witnesses and gardaí at the station gave differing accounts of how drunk the girls were, but there was evidence that the 16-year-old had been vomiting on the night.
Sgt Skehan told Ms Fawsitt that neither girl made a complaint, but that an adult connected to one of them found out what happened the following day.
In her victim impact statement read out in court, the then 16-year-old said that Velikov used her for her body and left her feeling very unhappy in herself.
She said she felt ashamed and didn’t like her body for a long time afterwards. She described how she had built herself up for the court case but was glad Velikov was “taken into custody and off the streets”.
Sgt Skehan agreed with Blaise O’Carroll SC, defending, that his client gave gardaí a “clear and concise description of what had happened”.
She agreed that Velikov had questioned the girls’ ages, but added:
Mr O’Carroll submitted to Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly that his client was at low risk of re-offending.
He said Velikov had been a “model prisoner” while awaiting sentence and had completed various courses. He said his client was “deeply embarrassed and extremely remorseful” for his actions.
Ms Justice Donnelly adjourned sentence in the matter until later this month.