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Northern Ireland woman jailed for sexually abusing schoolboys

By Paul Higgins

A woman who sexually abused two teenage boys has been jailed for 28 months.

As 40-year-old Bernadette McKibben was led out of Craigavon Crown Court dock in handcuffs, a relative of one victim told her to "enjoy Christmas in jail Bernie", while others clapped and cheered.

Outside the court the mother of one of the victims said she didn't feel the sentence was long enough, but added: "I am satisfied in knowing that we will be having Christmas dinner as a family but she'll be having hers in jail."

At an earlier hearing married mother-of-four McKibben, whose address is subject to a court-imposed reporting restriction, pleaded guilty to five sex offences relating to the inappropriate touching, sex acts and full sex with two schoolboys on dates between September 2013 and May 2014.

During sentencing yesterday, Judge Patrick Lynch QC revealed the offences came to light when the mother of a victim went to use the family laptop and discovered messages after her son had left his Facebook profile open.

The boys, who were just 14 years old, gave video recorded interviews with the police in which they disclosed how McKibben "started texting them both, talking dirty and saying she wanted to have sex with them".

One of the boys told police the messages began in a normal way but soon became sexualised and "continued until they were discovered".

The court heard how McKibben let herself into the home of one of the victims through the back door before performing a sex act on him.

Arrested and interviewed, McKibben accepted there had been what she described as "sexual banter", but she denied sexual activity.

In further interviews she claimed she couldn't remember sending sexually explicit messages.

The judge said it was clear from reports that the victims had been "profoundly affected", with a loss of trust, loss of self-confidence and emotional turmoil.

In contrast, however, Judge Lynch revealed that in psychological reports submitted on behalf of McKibben "she doesn't accept her responsibility despite pleading guilty".

The judge said he concluded that McKibben did not pose a significant risk of causing serious harm to others, but that in an effort to protect the public he was imposing a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

McKibben is barred from social media, having unsupervised contact with children, contacting her victims or their families, beginning a new relationship without disclosing the fact that she's a child abuser, and from having any internet device that doesn't store her web history.

The judge ordered McKibben to spend 28 months in jail and the same period under supervised licence.

In addition, McKibben was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for the rest of her life and barred from working with children.

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