Belfast paedophile who abused his two young nieces caged
A Belfast man convicted by a jury of sexually abusing his two nieces was starting a three-year stint behind bars yesterday.
The 57-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, was handed a four-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court, where he was told he will spend three years in jail followed by a year on probation when he is released from prison.
As he was being led from the dock and to the cells, a group of people in the public gallery called him a "dirty b*****d" and shouted "rot in hell".
In June the defendant was found guilty by a jury of 14 counts of indecent assault.
At that time he was released on bail, but his barrister John Orr QC revealed he revoked his own bail.
In a trial that spanned two weeks the jury heard evidence from the two sisters, who emotionally recalled how they were abused by their uncle when they visited their grandparents' home with their mother - the defendant's sister - in the east of the city in the Eighties and Nineties.
One of the women revealed how she was abused by her uncle from age eight until she was 15, while the other complainant said she was first abused after she finished P7 in 1988, with the abuse continuing until 1992.
He was aged between 26 and 32 when he assaulted his nieces on numerous occasions in his bedroom, with the jury hearing the offending was mainly "touching and rubbing over clothing".
The defendant was interviewed in July 2017 and denied abusing his nieces. He maintained this when giving evidence at the trial, claimed he had done nothing wrong, and spoke of a family feud as a possible reason for the allegations.
However, his version of events was rejected by the jury and he was convicted on 14 counts.
As he passed sentence yesterday Judge Stephen Fowler QC spoke of a breach of trust and said the abuse occurred in the home of the victims' grandparents - a place where the girls should have felt safe.
The judge also noted that he gave the girls money and sweets during this period and while he rejected a grooming element, he said this was more than likely to "buy their silence as to what he was doing to them at that time".
Judge Fowler said after reading victim impact statements it was clear the abuse had had a lasting effect on the sisters, one of whom now displays symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
He said: "The abuse she suffered as a child was a harrowing experience for her and has had a significant impact on her life."
Her sister, the judge said, also suffered "significant harm as a result of the abuse she suffered at the hands of this defendant".
Regarding the defendant, Judge Fowler noted his work history and a lack of a relevant record, and said no further allegations had been made.
He also noted the defendant's continued denials.
As well as passing down a four-year sentence, the defendant - already on the sex offenders register - was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order for five years.