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Mother in abuse probe ‘may have been a prostitute’

The mother of five alleged victims at the centre of a major domestic sexual abuse inquiry may have worked as a prostitute, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors also revealed some of her children have attempted suicide and been left psychologically traumatised by the years of abuse they were allegedly subjected to.

The details emerged as bail was granted to a former part-time RUC reservist charged in connection with historical crimes in the Co Down area.

Thomas Fitzpatrick (50), from Ardglass, is accused of the rape and indecent assault of a young girl, the indecent assault of a boy, gross indecency, threats to kill and possession of a firearm.

Nearly all of the offences are alleged to have been committed between 1983 and 1986.

He is one of four people — including the parents of the five alleged victims — to be charged with a catalogue of child sex offences.

A total of 17 people have either been arrested or questioned by police probing the claims.

During the bail application, Crown counsel Kate McKay said the alleged victims were siblings who had been physically and sexually abused.

The accused ex-reservist is not a memeber of the family but is one of a number of men who engaged in sexual activity with the children's mother, Ms McKay told the court.

According to Mrs McKay, the mother may have been involved in prostitution, with men visiting homes across Co Down where the family had lived.

She said it was unclear to what extent, if at all, any of them were linked to the alleged abuse. The barrister also claimed a regular theme during the years in question involved the children being threatened not to talk about it.

“This extended to the use of weapons to reinforce the threat,” she said.

Mrs McKay added that a number of the children have made suicide attempts and been left damaged psychologically to varying degrees.

Bail was granted after the judge heard the accused has a clear record and was never the subject of any similar allegations.

Although potential interference with witnesses was not considered an issue, the man was ordered to have no contact with any complainant.

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