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Brave Aodhan Woods waives anonymity and urges other victims to come forward to the police

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 23/02/2016

Aodhan Woods leaves court with mum and dad Janice and Sean
Aodhan Woods leaves court with mum and dad Janice and Sean
Darren Fu, who was jailed for the attack
Darren Fu

The man subjected to a "horrifying ordeal" at the hands of two people he considered as close friends has bravely waived his right to anonymity in a bid to prompt others to come forward.

Aodhan Woods was just 17 when he was tortured and sexually abused by the pair.

The now 19-year old student from Belfast said yesterday's sentencing means he can begin moving on with his life.

He also said the 11-year and six-year sentences handed to his former friends reflected the severity of the offences committed against him.

Aodhan, who attended court with friends and family, was described in court as a victim.

However, he said: "I don't see myself as a victim. I am speaking out to show other people that it's OK to go and tell the police if you have been sexually assaulted.

"I want people to find the courage to come forward and get the support that they need."

Recalling the events of May 2014, Aodhan said: "A few days before, Darren (Fu) had been going on to me about selling drugs and had threatened me, so when I went to his flat I felt a bit iffy. But I thought there's no way anything would happen because these were two of my best mates. I thought I was going to die that night. I will never forget what happened."

In an ordeal that lasted hours Aodhan was threatened with knives, had cigarettes burned on him, was bound and locked in a cupboard.

He was also subjected to several serious sexual assaults.

He rejected claims that Fu can't remember what he did, while the co-accused claimed he was ordered to act the way he did by Fu.

Aodhan said: "I find it totally impossible to believe what Darren said. I don't think that anybody could forget doing something like that to another person.

"The past two years have been exhausting, but it's over now. Any time I went into Belfast I had to look over my shoulder all the time.

"I've had really mad flashbacks, some of them are so vivid it's as if I'm back in the flat.

"I also can't go in to confined spaces now after being locked in the cupboard.

"Another big thing is trust issues. I find it really hard to trust people now, and I was never like that before."

Aodhan is determined to stay positive, still has a passion for music, and is studying at college.

Also helping Aodhan to move on are the sentences that were handed to his one-time friends.

He said: "It's really hard to describe how I felt when I heard how long they got.

"I wanted to scream with happiness into my hands."

He thanked his close family and friends for their love and backing.

He said: "When I went home that day, I wondered whether to tell anyone about it, but I realised I had to tell someone.

"I just want to thank my family and friends for their support. I couldn't have done it without them and they have been by my side the whole time.

"I also want to thank the police for everything they did.

"I would say to anyone else who has been sexually assaulted: 'Don't be afraid, don't hide it'.

"The only way to move forward is to tell someone and you'll soon realise there is so much support. Don't be afraid to speak out."

Detective Inspector Trish Higgins from the PSNI said: "These were despicable crimes carried out against this young man.

"He endured a terrifying ordeal at the hands of these defendants and I welcome the sentences they have now received.

"I encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report it to police so that we can investigate and bring those responsible to court."

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