Belfast Telegraph

UDA sex gang killed my friend: Teenage victim lifts lid on loyalist abuse and prostitution network

By Patricia Devlin

A BRAVE teenager today points the finger at the paramilitary paedophiles who drove her friend to suicide.

Natalie Graham, 19, has gone public to expose how Migle Seilute took her own life after being forced into prostitution by UDA men.

The two girls were targeted by the gang while they were living in a children's home. Migle, a vulnerable Lithuanian national, was found dead at her north Down home last year.

Natalie also reveals how she and other teenagers were plied with drink and drugs by high-profile UDA members who she says are still on the streets.

Migle had only been freed from care a short time before she took an overdose.

Natalie said the vulnerable teenager, whose death re-focused a police investigation into abuse, had been “pimped out” by a leading loyalist while they lived at the Ashgrove residential home in Newtownards.

She told Sunday Life how she herself was abused for three years from the age of 14 to 17.

“They get them (young girls) out to drink,” she said.

DEPRAVITY

“If you’re out, hanging about the town centre, they come up to you and start talking – that’s how it happened to me. Facebook is used as well.

“One of them was coming to the home and picking me up and another girl up.

“He took us to east Belfast in a car and he’d offer us drugs.

“I didn’t take any but my friend did. she was 15 at the time.

“He’d lock us in the car so we couldn’t get out, and then take us to a house where about four other men would be.”

Natalie claimed to have also watched one of her friends being abused by a paramilitary figure after both were taken to a party house in east Belfast.

She said: “I went up the stairs to try and stop it, but I was stopped by a man at the door.”

The depravity proved too much for Migle Seilute, who also fell into the clutches of the gang.

She said: “Migle was my friend and was driven to take her own life by these men, who were forcing her to be a prostitute.

“I know it, social services know it and the police know it.

“She used to come into the home to me, with £300 of notes in her hand and ask me to come out for a drink.

“We knew where she was getting the money.”

Natalie named five men - all leading loyalists in the north Down area - who were involved in the abuse - but claims that none have faced any charges.

Breaking down, she said: “The bottom line is the paramilitaries were taking girls from the home, filling them full of drink and drugs, getting what they wanted.

“I don’t know why they haven’t been prosecuted.

“There’s CCTV of them lifting me and another girl – there are times on my files of cars lifting me and her outside. I have about 20 files in the house, but they haven’t been done.”

Less than a year ago, the police launched a high-profile child exploitation probe into the abuse of youngsters at care facilities.

The inquiry, headed up Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton and codenamed Operation Owl, identified 22 children as potential victims and is investigating paramilitary involvement.

SCARED

It emerged that 18 of them had gone missing from supervised care on more than 400 occasions during the previous two years.

Natalie was one of them, but was too scared to make a statement to detectives.

She has now vowed to hand over details of the abuse to the PSNI.

“I refused to speak to police, they’d asked me for years to give statements, but I was too scared,” she said.

“I was still living in the home and I thought they would come after me.

“But I’ve decided that I will go to police and tell them everything.”

One man was convicted in relation to Natalie’s case - boyfriend and loyalist flag protestor Freddie Boyd.

He was found guilty of inducing her to run away from the home - but Natalie denies that the 22-year-old abused her in any way.

She said: “I hate talking about it (the abuse), I hate having to go into detail, but he’s (Freddie) not the abuser.

“I wrote a letter to the High Court judge at the time and told him, ‘Freddie Boyd did not child abduct me, molest or rape me’.

“He should never have been in court.”

Sunday Life has previously revealed how loyalist paramilitaries - including an ex-UVF prisoner - were involved in the abuse.

Earlier this month a major report revealed “powerful and persuasive” evidence that paramilitaries with access to “alcohol, drugs, guns and violence” had been grooming and sexually abusing youngsters in care.

RISK

The Marshall inquiry - headed up by former Scottish children’s commissioner Professor Kathleen Marshall, also warned that up to 145 children were currently at risk of child exploitation in the province.

Witnesses told the inquiry team that sexual exploitation had been occurring in bars and clubs “dominated by members of paramilitary groups” where there were lock-ins after hours.

The inquiry heard that “young girls would get a ‘tap on the shoulder’ to stay behind and may then get shared around”.

Victims feared threats to their families if they did not give in to the abuse and parents may resist reporting the crimes to police out of fear, the inquiry found.

UDA called me a rapist

FREDDIE Boyd claims that he has tried to take his own life over claims he abused Natalie.

The 22-year-old, who was attacked in prison over the false allegations earlier year, said he wants to clear his name after being connected with a high-profile child exploitation inquiry.

And he has blamed loyalist paramilitaries for “making up lies” about him, and vowed to name five high-profile UDA figures he says are involved in teen sex abuse.

Boyd applied to appear on the Jeremy Kyle show to refute the allegations, but failed.

He said: “Everyone thinks I’m a rapist, a child molester... I’ve had 10 death threats - most from loyalist paramilitaries - but it’s them (the paramilitaries) that are the paedophiles.

“I want my name cleared, I am no child abuser.

“My girlfriend was abused by UDA paedophiles, who I can name today.

“I know where they were being abused and I know how they were being abused – it’s a total miscarriage of justice that I was even lifted over this, I am worth a fortune and I can’t get it.”

He has admitted carrying out attacks for the UVF, but said he turned his back on paramilitaries after loyalist thugs battered his elderly grandmother.

PSNI make 18 arrests

A TOTAL of 18 people have been arrested as part of the PSNI investigation into child sexual exploitation.

Of them, two have been charged, six are out on police bail and 10 have been reported to the Public Prosecution Service.

“To date, these investigations have resulted in 20 searches conducted at a variety of locations in relation to a range of offences and 18 persons arrested in connection with sexual offences and other associated offences such as possession of drugs and supply of drugs,” a PSNI spokesperson told Sunday Life.

“We are committed to working with social services and the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland and other statutory and non-statutory agencies, as part of a multi-agency response to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation and make children safer.”

Earlier this month, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: “Over the last 18 months the PSNI has self-examined its responses to child sexual exploitation and is already implementing changes in its approach.

“This includes the appointment of a Detective Chief Superintendent and five Detective Chief Inspectors to ensure better oversight coordination and investigation of all forms of child abuse and domestic violence.”

He added: “Everyone has a responsibility to support the police, share information and help tackle this issue to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our society.

“We would continue to appeal for anyone who has any information that may be of assistance in identifying victims or those who sexually exploit children and young people to make contact with the investigation team by contacting the non-emergency number on 101.”

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