| 18°C Belfast

Mother accused of sexually abusing her children

A mother accused of sexually abusing her five children over a 20-year period has appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court.

The 55-year-old Co Down woman, who cannot be identified, stands accused of more than 40 child sex offences including incest, aiding and abetting rape, indecent assault, grievous bodily harm, gross indecency and 15 counts of cruelty.

She is also accused of making threats to kill as well as arson with intent to endanger life and possession of a firearm.

The woman’s solicitor, Gareth Dillon, told the court that his client would deny all the charges.

The alleged incidents are said to have taken place in the south Down area during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

On Monday, two men appeared at Downpatrick Magistrates Court charged in connection with a catalogue of child sex offences, including rape.

One of the men was the Co Down woman’s ex-husband and father of the alleged victims. The other man, a former part-time RUC reservist, was described as her former partner. Both were remanded into custody and will reappear in court next month.

During the hearing in Newtownards yesterday, Detective Constable Barry Edgar, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Unit, said he could connect the accused to the charges. When asked why bail was being opposed, the officer told the court that police feared the woman would interfere with witnesses.

He said the alleged victims had already suffered intimidation and received messages to withdraw their statements.

When asked by District Judge Hamilton why he should grant the application to oppose bail, the officer told the court police feared the woman could re-offend.

He said that, following a search of her home, officers discovered a number of children’s toys.

“This gives reason that children are likely to visit,” he added.

District Judge Hamilton refused bail on the grounds there would be a risk of interference with witnesses.

She was remanded in custody to reappear at Downpatrick Magistrates Court on June 10.

A total of seven people were arrested on Friday in connection with allegations of historical child sex abuse. Three men and one women have been released on bail pending reports to the Public Prosecution Service.

Belfast Telegraph