Belfast man accused of sexually abusing nieces on visits to grandparents
A 57-year-old man has gone on trial in Belfast, accused of sexually abusing two nieces while they visited their grandparents.
The sisters claim they were abused by the uncle in the 1980s and 90s, when they were children and he was in his 20s and 30s. The accused, from east Belfast, who can't be named to protect the identity of his nieces, denies charges of repeatedly indecently assaulting them.
Prosecutor Rosemary Walsh told the jury at Belfast Crown Court that one of the women said she was abused from the age of eight until she was 15, while the other alleged she was first abused after she finished P7 in 1988, with the abuse continuing until 1992. Ms Walsh said the abuse occurred when the children visited their grandparents with their mother, the defendant's sister.
She said the first complainant recalls the abuse beginning with "small acts", and that on occasion he would call her up to his bedroom, throw money on the floor, and when she went to pick it up, he would indecently assault her.
The abuse ended when she was in her teens, with the jury being told it was "always on her mind". As an adult, she was encouraged by a counsellor to think about what happened to her.
Several months before she went to police, she wrote a letter to her uncle telling him how she felt about what occurred in her childhood, the court heard. This letter was posted through his letterbox in November 2016 and, as a result, family members found out about the allegations.
Mr Walsh said that "as a result of matters being out in the open", the complainant's sister "also disclosed that her uncle acted in a sexual manner with her when she was a child". She wrote a letter to her uncle's wife before contacting police.
The defendant was interviewed in July 2017 and denied the claims. He told officers that at the time of the alleged abuse, he lived with his parents, and said there would have been "lots of kids running about". He denied any sexual touching and alluded to a family fall-out.