Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Ex-leader of church youth club jailed for molesting boys

A former Church of Ireland youth leader who abused two young boys has been jailed for two years.

At Downpatrick Crown Court on Tuesday, the 73-year-old man, who cannot be named, was described by a judge as a “continual risk to society” and sentenced to two years in prison, for a string of sex offences.

Earlier this year, a jury found the man guilty of 16 counts of indecent assault against a male and four counts of gross indecency with a child.

The indecent assaults took place in east Belfast, between September 1979 and January 1984.

The court heard the paedophile was a Church of Ireland youth leader, who was responsible for driving the first victim home after youth club events.

Judge Gemma Loughran, said the man abused his position of trust. “His parents trusted you, as a neighbour as well as a youth leader, to bring the boy home safely and you indecently assaulted him when you were alone with him,” she said.

Judge Loughran said a victim impact statement revealed the victim, who is now approaching his 40th birthday, now suffers from a sense of “foreboding” about his own children's safety.

“He hasn't been able to return to work and is receiving counselling,” she said.

Judge Loughran told the court that the second victim, who is now 12 years old, was subjected to acts of gross indecency from the man.

The abuse took place at his east Belfast home between September 2007 and April 2008, when the boy helped the man clear stones from a driveway.

The victim impact statement from the second victim revealed the boy now suffers from sleep disturbance and emotional regression as a result of the abuse.

Judge Loughran said the man was not suitable for probation after his jail term because he has a “lack of remorse or empathy for the victims” and “continues to deny the offences”.

“He also poses a continual, significant risk to society,” she added.

Upon his release, the man is forbidden to communicate with the victims or their families, associate with anyone under the age of 18 or come within 100 metres of a place where children are educated or congregate.

Speaking outside the court, the mother of one of the victims branded the man a “scumbag”.

The niece of the paedophile also expressed her outrage at the “leniency of the sentence”.

"He should have been locked away for a lot longer. I cannot believe he will be out walking the streets in two years," she said.

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