Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Abuse inquiry: fourth suspect charged

Another person is due in court today, charged in connection with what is believed to be one of the biggest ever domestic sexual abuse inquiries in Northern Ireland.

The man is the fourth person to appear in court as part of the major police investigation into claims of historical sex abuse within the south Down area.

The man is charged with a number of sex offences, which include rape, gross indecency and indecent assault. He is due to appear at Newtownards Magistrate’s Court. Three people, including parents of the five alleged victims and a former part-time RUC reservist, were charged this week with a catalogue of child sex offences.

All three were refused bail. They will reappear in court next month.

So far, 13 people have been arrested in connection with the major probe.

It is understood the alleged abuse took place in the south Down area during the 1970s,1980s and early 1990s.

Specialist officers from the PSNI’s Public Protection Unit have been working on the case since February after five alleged victims came forward.

Because of its complexity, officers from other sections in the force have been drafted in at different stages to help in the probe.

The latest person charged was one of six detained on Wednesday.

Four others were released on bail and one was freed pending reports to the Public Prosecution Service.

Last Friday, detectives arrested seven people. Three have since been charged and appeared in court. They remain in custody.

On Tuesday at Newtownards Magistrate’s Court it emerged that one of the accused is the mother of the alleged victims.

She was charged with more than 40 child sex offences including incest, aiding and abetting rape, indecent assault, gross indecency and 15 counts of cruelty.

Two men, the woman’s ex-husband and father of the alleged victims and a former part-time RUC reservist, both appeared at Downpatrick Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with a string of child sex offences.

Two men and one woman who were arrested last Friday as part of the investigation have been released pending reports to the PPS.

Another man, who was also questioned last Friday in connection with intimidation offences, was released on bail pending further inquiries.

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