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Man sexually abused sister when they were children, court told

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 52-year old man has gone on trial in Belfast, accused of sexually abusing his younger sister when they were both children.

The accused - who is originally from Co Antrim and who now lives in England - is facing 13 charges.

They date back to the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Yesterday, a jury of six men and six women at Belfast Crown Court heard the alleged abuse occurred in the family home whilst the accused was babysitting his youngster sibling.

The jury was also told that the complainant went to police in 2013 after suffering a life-threatening illness and alleged she had been abused by her brother.

Opening the Crown case to the jury, prosecuting barrister John Orr QC said the accused, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainant, has been charged with 13 offences.

These include one count of rape and multiple counts of indecent assault.

Mr Orr said it was the Crown's case that the abuse occurred in the family home in Co Antrim between June 1976 and December 1983 when the accused was babysitting.

The conduct, Mr Orr said, occurred when she was aged between six or seven and continued until she was 13.

Revealing the accused is just under five years older than his sister, Mr Orr said this meant he was aged around 11 or 12 when the incidents began.

The prosecutor said "the progressive course of conduct... got more serious as it went along".

The accused subsequently moved to England and in Ausgust 2013, the complainant - who is now aged 48 - contacted the PSNI and made a complaint "about this behaviour that happened all those years ago".

Mr Orr said that at this time the complainant was battling a life-threatening illness.

He said she "didn't know whether she was going to come through it and come out the other end", and she felt "this was the time to put it in the public domain".

After making a statement to police, officers launched an investigation and travelled to England to interview the accused man.

During interviews, he denied the allegations his sister made.

Mr Orr told the jury it was their job, during the trial, to determine who was telling the truth.

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