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Mother of teen who was abused by foster carer slams sentence

By Paul Higgins

Published 15/11/2016

Sex attacker: Patrick Feighan
Sex attacker: Patrick Feighan

The mother of a vulnerable teenager sexually abused by her disgraced foster father has criticised his suspended sentence and said coming forward was "not worthwhile".

Patrick Feighan walked free from court despite having sexually assaulting the then teenager as she suffered a fit.

In a statement afterwards, the victim's mum lambasted the 57-year-old's two year jail term - which was suspended for three years at Newry Crown Court.

"My daughter has been left very upset," she said.

"This is not a deterrent and it is not justice.

"There are conditions attached to this sentence which she supports but a suspended sentence has little meaning to a victim.

"In the difficult circumstances of coming forward after sexual abuse, this makes it all seem not worthwhile."

Judge Melody McReynolds told Feighan his behaviour was a "predatory breach of trust of a young person who, to your knowledge, had an emotional and physical disadvantage".

As well as the jail term, Feighan was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for 10 years, banned from working with children and made the subject of a five year sexual offenders prevention order.

That order bars Feighan from having unsupervised contact with children, loitering near child centred facilities and from conducting any relationship without disclosing his convictions.

Last month Feighan, originally from Armagh but now with an address at Tavistock Avenue in St Albans in England, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting his victim on April 28 last year.

She bravely waived her right to anonymity so that Feighan can be named and shamed.

The court heard how Feighan, who had been involved in the foster care of "upwards of 50 children" over 16 years, first molested the teenager by groping her breast while the girl was in the throes of a seizure on her bed.

She "swiped" his hand away, and prosecuting lawyer Geraldine McCullough described how after the fit she would usually feel tired, so having gone to the bathroom, she went back to her bed to lie down.

As she lay on the bed facing towards the wall, Feighan sexually assaulted her, believing she was asleep.

However, Feighan's DNA profile was uncovered on a wipe the victim used afterwards.

The court heard that Feighan had since split from his wife and had moved out of Northern Ireland with no intention to return.

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