Belfast Telegraph

Judgment reserved in Adams sex case

The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment in a sex abuse case against Liam Adams, the brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

The 59-year-old was found guilty of a string of attacks on his daughter Aine Dahlstrom when she was aged between four and nine during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

He was handed a 16-year sentence in 2013 but is seeking to have his convictions overturned.

Adjourning the case at Belfast's Royal Courts of Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice, said: "We will make a judgment as soon as we can."

Adams, formerly of Bernagh Drive in West Belfast, was convicted of 10 offences against Mrs Dahlstrom - three counts of rape, four of indecent assault and three of gross indecency.

The opportunist predator committed the crimes when he was left alone with his daughter, often sneaking into her room while she slept.

The abuse was committed over a five-year period between 1977 and 1981. In later years he went on to work in a number of youth centres in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A panel of senior judges, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Justice Gillen and Lord Justice Patrick Coghlin, heard the appeal.

Defence barrister Eilis McDermott QC questioned the credibility of some evidence from Mrs Dahlstrom's mother, Sarah Campbell, in which she described holding her daughter all night after being told about the abuse.

Ms McDermott said : "It accords with the very dramatic account of events that were given on the UTV Insight programme that she had given to the police."

The level of publicity surrounding the case was also highlighted.

Ms McDermott added: "The circumstances of this case were unique. The problem, from the defence point of view, is that the damage was done before the trial ever started."

Mrs Dahlstrom, now in her early 40s, has waived her right to anonymity. She was not in court for the appeal.

Grey-haired and bespectacled Adams wore a grey and white woollen jumper and appeared relaxed throughout the brief hearing.

He sat in the dock beside a prison guard and smiled towards his wife Bronagh and daughter Claire Smith, who were seated in the public gallery.

The appeal also focuses on tactics used by the police in 1986 when Mrs Dahlstrom first made a complaint.

The court heard that she withdrew the allegation because she believed officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were more interested in gathering intelligence on her father's republican friends and activities than dealing with the child abuse.

She approached police a decade later and reinstated her complaint.

Prosecution barrister Ciaran Murphy QC said it was "expecting too much" for Mrs Dahlstrom or her mother, Sarah Campbell, to provide exact accounts of how and by whom they were questioned when they first went to Grosvenor Road RUC station in Belfast.

He said: "It was for her, in her head, a peripheral matter."

Liam Adams was interviewed by detectives in February 2007 and left the jurisdiction for the Republic of Ireland.

He later handed himself in to police in Sligo and was extradited to Northern Ireland under a European Arrest Warrant.

His first trial collapsed in 2013 and he was tried and convicted in the autumn of that year.

The conviction heaped pressure on Gerry Adams to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he initially learned of them.

The Sinn Fein leader, who gave evidence in the first trial, has insisted he acted properly and accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.

The case has been adjourned.

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