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Pensioner fails in bid to reduce sexual abuse sentence

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Gerald O'Hara, 68, claimed the ten and a half year term imposed for a number of indecent assaults was manifestly excessive but the Court of Appeal rejected that.

Gerald O'Hara, 68, claimed the ten and a half year term imposed for a number of indecent assaults was manifestly excessive but the Court of Appeal rejected that.

Gerald O'Hara, 68, claimed the ten and a half year term imposed for a number of indecent assaults was manifestly excessive but the Court of Appeal rejected that.

A Co Londonderry pensioner jailed for subjecting three young girls to years of sexual abuse has failed in a bid to secure a reduced sentence.

Gerald O'Hara, 68, claimed the ten and a half year term imposed for the indecent assaults he still denies was manifestly excessive.

But the Court of Appeal rejected claims the prison sentence had been too heavy.

Lord Justice McCloskey said: "This was a protracted campaign of self-gratifying and lustful sexual abuse of three children."

In 2019 O'Hara, from Drumsurn near Limavady, was convicted on 14 counts of sexual abuse following a retrial.

He targeted the schoolgirls over a 15-year period from 1980.

One of the victims was attacked while she was babysitting, while other assaults were carried out in a coal bunker.

O'Hara was ordered to serve eight and a half years in prison, with a further two years on probation.

Despite the convictions he continues to maintain his innocence.

Defence lawyers claimed the sentence failed to take into account the intermittent nature of the offences, and inadequately reflected his previous and subsequent good character.

Rejecting those submissions, Lord Justice McCloskey stressed the multiplicity of attacks on vulnerable children.

He also cited the planning and premeditation involved, as well as the "profound" impact on the victims.

The judge ruled: "This court considers without any reservations that the overall sentence imposed upon this offender for a shameful and self-gratifying campaign of protracted sexual abuse of his three young nieces during an important formative stage of their lives and giving rise to serious adverse consequences for the injured parties is unimpeachable."

O'Hara, who was found not guilty on nine similar charges, had also been made subject to the terms of a sexual offences protection order (SOPO) for five years after his prison release.

However, the Court of Appeal decided to discharge the SOPO with immediate effect.

"Such measures as are considered necessary for the purpose of protecting the public or any particular members of the public from serious sexual harm on the part of this offender can be evaluated by the different mechanism of professional evaluation by the Probation Board when it is determining the terms of his probationary period of two years," Lord Justice McCloskey said.

Belfast Telegraph


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