Stepfather's years of child cruelty revealed in court
A woman whose stepfather subjected her to a cruel campaign of violence and degradation when she was aged between 11 and 14 said she reported the abuse after she heard he had another child.
James McIlroy (57) from Templemore Avenue in east Belfast was yesterday handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he admitted three counts of assaulting his stepdaughter - including tying a belt around her neck and making her walk on all fours when she was aged around 13.
His victim - now a 38-year-old mother-of-four - said she was relieved the case was now over and that McIlroy accepted his guilt.
"I would have liked him to have got some jail time, but what is meant to be will be. I heard he had another child and I didn't want that child to go through the same thing as I did.
"I wanted to come to court years ago, but due to a number of personal circumstances I put it off. But when I met my fiance... everything started to fall in to place and I realised I needed closure as this was always something that was hanging over me."
Belfast Crown Court heard the offences were committed from September 1987 to September 1990. A Crown prosecutor told the court that on one occasion, McIlroy was working on a car but was unhappy at the way the work was going, lost his temper and punched his stepdaughter in the ribs, causing her to fall.
On other occasions, he would make the youngster stand with her arms out, and when her arms became tired and she lowered them, McIlroy would strike her with a bamboo cane.
The prosecutor said McIlroy would also send the youngster on tasks to search for items he had hidden in places she wouldn't be able to find them, then "she would be punished".
The court heard that when the girl was about 13, McIlroy put a belt around her neck then made her walk around the room on all fours. Passing sentence, Judge David McFarland told McIlroy: "You were in a position of trust, and as a stepfather figure it was your duty to provide comfort and protection within the home - and sadly that was lacking."
Telling McIlroy his behaviour towards the girl was both violent and degrading, Judge McFarland said it was "well over and above normal chastisement" which resulted in suffering on her part.
The judge also said that while the physical aspects of the assaults were "limited", his course of conduct "clearly had an emotional and psychological impact" on the girl.