Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Liam Adams - brother of Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams - found guilty of raping his daughter

Liam Adams at Belfast Crown Court today
Liam Adams at Belfast Crown Court today
Aine Adams, daughter of Liam Adams, leaves Belfast Crown Court after her father, the younger brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, was found guilty of a string of child sex abuse charges.
Aine Adams, the daughter of Liam Adams arrives at Belfast Crown Court as the jury has retired to consider its verdict in the case against Mr Adams, who is accused of 10 counts of child sex abuse against Aine who has waived her right to anonymity.
Liam Adams, 58, arrives at Belfast Crown Court as the jury has retired to conisder its verdict, he is accused of 10 counts of child sex abuse against his daughter Aine, who has waived her right to anonymity.

Liam Adams - the younger brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - has been found guilty of a string of child sex abuse charges.

Liam Dominic Adams, 58, from Bernagh Drive in west Belfast, was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter, Aine, over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983 when she was aged between four and nine.

Bespectacled Adams, who was wearing a grey suit, cream shirt and blue tie, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were returned.

Remanding him in custody Judge Corinne Philpott said: "Take him down."

The jury of nine men and three women had heard more than two weeks of evidence at Belfast Crown Court.

They began deliberating at 11.05am this morning and took almost four hours to reach guilty verdicts with a majority of 11 to one.

Aine Adams has waived her right to anonymity.

There was complete silence as the jury foreman read out guilty verdicts on all of the 10 charges to the packed court.

Adams, who walks with the aid of a stick and used a court hearing aid to follow proceedings, stood between two prison officers in the dock with his hands clasped tightly.

Aine Adams, who was surrounded by family members, wept and clutched her younger sister Sinead for support.

On the other side of the public gallery, Adams's second wife Bronagh and their daughter Claire, who gave evidence in his defence, also cried.

Adams nodded to them as he was led to the cells.

During the trial Aine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was aged four.

Raped

The first time she recalled being raped was while her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother Conor in 1977.

In another incident she was raped by her father at a flat on Belfast's Antrim Road while her brother was asleep in the bed beside her.

Adams, who was a heavy drinker, also forced his daughter to perform sex acts.

In a statement read out by a police officer outside the court, Ms Adams said she could finally begin to move on after a long and hard road to achieve justice.

"I do not see this verdict as a victory or a celebration as it has taken its toll and has caused hurt, heartache and anguish for all those involved.

"I can now begin my life at 40 and lay to rest the memory of the five-year-old girl who was abused," she said.

The allegations were first made public when Ms Adams took part in a television documentary in 2009.

A short time later, Gerry Adams revealed his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.

Fled

Within days of the sex abuse scandal hitting the headlines, Liam Adams fled to the Republic claiming he could not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland. He handed himself in to police in Co Sligo but could not be detained because the Garda officers did not have the correct documentation.

He was eventually handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at the border in November 2011 after losing a lengthy and expensive extradition battle.

The trial opened in April this year but collapsed due to legal reasons and the jury was discharged.

At that time, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was called as a prosecution witness. He told the court he confronted his brother about the allegations during a meeting in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and Liam Adams had denied the abuse.

He then revealed his brother later confessed while they were out walking together in the rain in Dundalk, Co Louth, in 2000.

Gerry Adams was not called as a prosecution witness for the latest trial, which re-opened before a new jury panel last month.

In her statement given outside Laganside court complex, Ms Adams thanked the media for helping her to tell her story.

She said: "I would like to give all my family a special thanks. Without their love, support and understanding I would not be here today."

She also expressed gratitude to the PSNI's public protection unit and the Public Prosecution Service.

"I would now ask for some privacy for my family to reflect on recent trying times," she said.

Adams is due to be sentenced next month.

 

Vile paedophile behind caring mask

For almost four decades he led a double life.

Liam Adams - a younger brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - portrayed himself as a caring father, concerned community worker and ardent republican.

But the 58-year-old, who desperately tried to evade justice by going on the run, has now finally been unmasked as a vile predatory paedophile who exploited every opportunity to sneak into his four-year-old daughter's bedroom and rape her.

Born into a staunchly republican family revered in their west Belfast community as aristocrats of the movement, Liam Adams was one of 10 children.

His father, Gerry snr, had been an IRA stalwart from the 1930s and also subjected members of his family to a torrent of physical, mental and sexual abuse over many years.

He met Sarah (also known as Sally) Corrigan when they were both 16. A short time later, she fell pregnant with their daughter Aine and the couple wed - not out of love but, because they had to.

It was an unhappy union frequently filled with rows and violence. Sometimes the domestic abuse became so bad Sarah had to flee the family home, leaving evil Adams alone to molest their vulnerable young daughter.

The couple shared three different houses across west Belfast - at Westrock Drive; Dunglow Gardens in the Lenadoon estate and New Barnsley area of Ballymurphy but, it was an on-off relationship and they were often apart.

Prision

It was the height of the Troubles and Liam Adams, who according to friends was on the fringes of the IRA, would be absent for days at a time. Indeed he was in prison around the time Aine was born.

By the end of 1981 and after four children - Aine, Liam, Conor and Sinead - Liam Adams split from his wife permanently. He was kicked out of the house and moved into a bedsit flat on the Antrim Road in north Belfast.

He took little interest in his children save for a few access visits during which he sexually abused Aine including on one occasion while her younger brother Liam slept in the bed beside them.

Adams was also a heavy drinker. Aine recalled she would always smell alcohol on her father's breath when he forced himself on her.

He found it difficult to put down roots and his transient lifestyle led him to America, Canada, Donegal, Dublin and Dundalk.

During the early 1980s he struck up a new relationship with his second wife Bronagh - with whom he has two daughters - and who stood by him as harrowing details of child rape were revealed during his two-and-a-half week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

He spent up to four months at Lazarus House, a hostel in New York run by Fr Pat Moloney - a radical priest who is open about his support for the IRA.

Speaking from New York Fr Moloney said: "To me he wasn't hiding anything. He didn't conceal who he was. He had Bronagh with him and they were a lovely couple.

"But, he was not in the best of health. I don't know whether he left Ireland because he was an embarrassment to the ambitions of anybody else in the family but, it did seem that they did want him to take a vacation for what reasons, I never knew."

Celebrity

While in New York, Adams, who did not work, played on his famous family name and enjoyed minor celebrity status. He would be given free drinks in bars in Brooklyn and be invited to speak at republican fundraising events across the State.

And, when he returned to Ireland he continued to lie to friends and family.

Indeed, such was the level of his deception that he was trusted to work with children for almost 20 years after his daughter first went to police in 1987.

First, he was appointed youth worker at Clonard Monastery in the heart of his brother's West Belfast constituency, where the former MP attended Mass and was good friends with many of the priests - including Fr Alex Reid, who was a mediator between the IRA and British government during the fledgling peace process.

One former community worker, who met Liam Adams during his time at Clonard, said: "He was pleasant enough. He had a lot of ideas about what to do with the young people. People were impressed by him, I suppose.

"When the allegations emerged it shook the community and the fact that a lot of people had known about it but did nothing was also shocking. People are asking questions that if people knew about it, why did they do nothing."

Adams stayed at Clonard for about five years but in 2003 moved to Muirhevnamor Community Youth Project in Dundalk - the border town his brother now represents in the Irish parliament - where he worked with young people in their mid-teens.

A year later he returned north having secured a job the Beechmount Community Project, again in the heart of his brother's former power-base. Adams moved his new family to Andersonstown.

Scandal

When Aine went public with the allegations in a television documentary aired in 2009, the sex abuse scandal hit the headlines. Adams immediately fled to the Republic and ignored repeated appeals, including from his older brother, to take responsibility for his sickening crimes and hand himself in.

His cowardly attempts to avoid prosecution were only thwarted after a lengthy and expensive extradition battle in Dublin's Four Courts. Adams was eventually handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland at the border in November 2011.

Securing the conviction was a long and complex journey. The protracted legal process was dogged by delays and difficulties which collapsed his first trial in April this year and loomed over the second case like a guillotine ready to drop.

Exposing Adams' sordid secrets has also had implications far beyond his family circle.

The revelations sent shock waves throughout the republican movement and sparked widespread anger among the Sinn Fein party faithful, particularly in west Belfast and Dundalk.

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams faced tough questions about why he did not tell police about his paedophile brother and explain how he was able to work with children for so long.

When he appeared as a prosecution witness during the first trial in April, the Sinn Fein leader shifted uncomfortably in his seat when asked if had tried to "save his own political skin" by not revealing the truth until nine years after he learned his brother was a paedophile.

Gerry Adams told the court he warned a priest, who is now dead, about his brother's sinister past and the pair became estranged after the allegations emerged.

He also said he moved to expel Liam Adams from Sinn Fein in 1997 after becoming aware he was a potential election candidate in Co Louth.

However, Liam Adams continued to mix with the republican movement and in 2000 involved himself in local party work in Belfast.

Pictures of the Adams brothers smiling together at Liam's second wedding in 1987 and during an election canvass in Dundalk 10 years later, which were shown during the April case, contradicted claims the pair were not in touch.

Gerry Adams said the 1997 photograph was taken around the same time he found out that his father was an abuser and should be seen in the context of attempting to deal with that revelation as well as trying to make his brother face his responsibilities.

Timeline: Events leading to Liam Adams' conviction

1977 - Aine Adams, aged four, is indecently assaulted by her father Liam Adams at her home in Westrock Drive, west Belfast.

May 1978 - Aine Adams recalls being raped for the first time while her mother is in hospital giving birth to her younger brother, Conor.

December 1981 - Liam Adams splits from first wife Sarah.

June 1983 - Gerry Adams elected as West Belfast MP and becomes president of Sinn Fein.

December 1985 - Aine Adams discovers Liam Adams has another young daughter with whom he is living in Donegal.

December 1986 - Aine Adams, aged 13, reveals in a letter to her mother that she was repeatedly raped by her father Liam Adams from the age of four.

January 1987 - Aine Adams and her mother report catalogue of child sex abuse to detectives at Grosvenor Road RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) station.

February 1987 - Aine Adams and her mother retract statements about abuse over attempts to exploit them for intelligence gathering. A detective tells Aine Adams the file will be retained on record.

March 1987 - Gerry Adams confronts his brother Liam at a house in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and threatens to hit him with a hammer. Gerry Adams is driven to Donegal by his cousin, Kevin Hannaway. Aine Adams and her mother are also present.

1990 - Sarah Campbell moves her family to Scotland.

1991 - Aine Adams moves to Scotland.

1997 - Gerry Adams is pictured smiling with his brother during an election canvass in Dundalk, Co Louth.

1997 - Liam Adams is expelled from Sinn Fein after his brother Gerry learns of his intention to stand as an election candidate for Co Louth. He continues to carry out work for the party.

December 1999 - While Christmas shopping, Aine Adams tells her younger sister Sinead she was sexually abused as a child.

December 2002 - Liam Adams confesses abuse against Aine when confronted by Sinead, during a meeting in Twinbrook.

January 2006 - Aine Adams returns to Belfast and goes to PSNI to have case re-opened against her father.

November 2007 - Liam Adams is arrested by the PSNI and questioned about child sex abuse allegations. He denies all allegations.

March 2008 - Aine Adams makes complaint to the Police Ombudsman.

November 2008 - Liam Adams fails to turn up at court in Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges. He fled to the Republic over fears he would not receive a fair trial.

December 2009 - Aine Adams waives her right to anonymity and goes public about the abuse in a television documentary. Gerry Adams urges Liam to hand himself in.

December 2009 - Liam Adams presents himself to Gardai in Sligo but cannot be legally detained because the necessary European arrest warrant has not been issued by the PSNI.

December 2009 - Gerry Adams reveals in a television interview that his father had been abusive.

March 2010 - Liam Adams is arrested at a Dublin police station, under a European arrest warrant which was issued by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

March 2010 - Liam Adams released on bail of 15,000 euros - half of which was put forward by his daughter Claire Smith after a hearing at Dublin High Court.

February 2011 - Gerry Adams wins seat as Co Louth TD.

July 2011 - Liam Adams launches a legal challenge against his extradition from the Irish Republic. His lawyers argue that he will not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland because of publicity.

October 2011 - Liam Adams loses fight against extradition. Dublin High Court rules that he should be transferred to Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges.

October 2011 - Liam Adams instructs legal representatives to appeal against the extradition order.

October 2011 - Liam Adams loses bid to appeal against extradition at the Supreme Court in Dublin. He is taken to a jail in Dublin to await transfer to Northern Ireland.

November 2011 - Gardai hand Liam Adams over to PSNI officers at the Irish border.

November 2011 - Liam Adams is to stand trial accused of child sex abuse. A district judge grants a prosecution application for the case to progress to the next stage. Adams is remanded in custody.

December 2011 - Liam Adams is refused bail after appearing at Belfast Crown Court accused of child sex abuse. Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess said he was concerned about a potential flight risk if bail was granted. He is later granted bail.

April 2013 - First trial against Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court. Jury of six men and six women is sworn in.

April 22, 2013 - Gerry Adams takes the stand as a prosecution witness and denies claims he did not tell the authorities about his brother sooner because he was trying to save his political skin.

April 25, 2013 - Trial collapses because of legal issues and jury is discharged. Judge Corrine Philpott orders that a new trial be held in the autumn.

September 9, 2013 - New sex abuse trial against Liam Adams is due to open. Prosecution announced that Gerry Adams will not be called to give evidence in the new case. Proceedings are delayed because of further legal argument.

September 16, 2013 - Sex abuse trial for Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court before Judge Corrine Philpott.

September 26, 2013 - Liam Adams takes the stand to defend himself and strongly denies abusing his daughter.

September 27, 2013 - Defence and prosecution legal teams complete their cases.

October 1, 2013 - Jury of nine men and three women take about four hours to return guilty verdicts in all 10 charges with a majority of 11 to one. Liam Adams is remanded in custody.

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