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Liam Adams loses appeal for subjecting his daughter to six years of abuse

By Alan Erwin

Published 06/05/2015

Liam Adams at an earlier court appearance
Liam Adams at an earlier court appearance

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams' brother has lost his appeal against being convicted of raping his own daughter.

Liam Adams (59) was seeking to overturn a finding that he was guilty of committing a string of sexual assaults over a six-year period.

A panel of three senior judges in Belfast rejected all grounds of challenge, including claims about pre-trial publicity, lies and inconsistent evidence.

Lord Justice Coghlin said: "The court has not been persuaded that the verdict of the jury was unsafe and, consequently, the appeal must be dismissed."

Liam Adams, formerly of Bearnagh Drive in Belfast, is serving a 16-year jail sentence for the offences against his daughter Aine, who waived her right to anonymity. The abuse was carried out between 1977 and 1983 when the victim was aged between four and nine.

He consistently denied the allegations throughout a second trial at Belfast Crown Court in 2013.

A jury of nine men and three women found him guilty of 10 offences against his daughter: three charges of rape, four counts of indecent assault and a further three counts of gross indecency.

His legal team went before the Court of Appeal to argue that those jurors were not properly directed on how to deal with widespread publicity in the case.

They claimed the level of Press, television, radio and online coverage on both sides of the Irish border even before he went on trial turned his case into a national issue. According to counsel for the appellant, a television documentary sparked widespread media attention.

The court also heard how Gerry Adams had revealed in an interview that his father subjected family members to sexual abuse.

Giving evidence as a prosecution witness at the first trial, the Sinn Fein chief claimed his brother confessed to him that he had "molested" his daughter.

Counsel for Liam Adams contended that any jury member would have heard about the case and her client's earlier battle against being extradited from the Republic of Ireland by the time of the second trial in September 2013.

Lord Justice Coghlin, sitting with Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan and Lord Justice Gillen, rejected submissions that it put the safety of the conviction into doubt.

As Liam Adams appeared by a prison video-link, his wife Bronagh and other relatives gathered in the public gallery.

None of them showed any emotion as all other grounds of challenge were thrown out.

It had been contended that guidance to the jury may have wrongly shifted the burden onto Adams to prove he was innocent.

A further criticism was levelled at the advice given on how to deal with the reliability of the victim's account. The judges dismissed every argument, including claims that the defendant's case was not properly put to the jury. Dealing with claims that the trial judge intervened in the evidence of Aine Adams' mother to help the prosecution, Lord Justice Coghlin said: "We are satisfied that those interventions were essentially directed to attempts to clarify evidence for the benefit of the jury from a witness who was dealing with events that had taken place more than 30 years ago."

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