Belfast Telegraph

Dunmurry woman Kelly Marie Meighan avoids jail after abusing girls as a teen

Abuser: Kelly Marie Meighan
Abuser: Kelly Marie Meighan

By Paul Higgins

A woman who sexually abused three children when she was a teenager walked from court yesterday with a suspended jail sentence.

Imposing a two-year jail sentence on 37-year-old Kelly Marie Meighan, but suspending it for three years, Craigavon Crown Court Judge Patrick Lynch QC said it was "clear the defendant had a turbulent childhood with a violent father who was violent to his daughter and a mother who was an alcoholic".

While Judge Lynch ordered the mother-of-two to sign the police sex offenders register for 10 years, he declined to impose a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, deeming one unnecessary given the circumstances of the case and the low risk of reoffending posed by Meighan.

On the morning her trial was due to start, Meighan, from Pembroke Court in Dunmurry, confessed to eight charges of indecent assault and five of committing acts of gross indecency with or towards a child on unknown dates between 31 December 1993 and 19 November 1998.

The particulars of the offences reveal that Meighan committed acts of sexual abuse against three separate girls and the court heard yesterday how they were aged between five and eight while Meighan herself was a teenager.

Summarising the case, Jude Lynch recounted how there was mutual inappropriate touching and penetration of the girls' private parts and chest area, with one victim disclosing how Meighan kissed her on the lips "like a proper adult snog".

The offences initially came to light in 2013 when one of the victims attempted suicide, but Meighan was not questioned about the allegations until 2017 when she denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that stance until the morning of her trial.

Turning to the mitigating and aggravating features, Judge Lynch said the offences were worsened by the age and vulnerability of the victim but that in mitigation, Meighan had admitted her guilt and shown remorse.

He said other factors to take into consideration were that Meighan had lost her job as a care worker and that the case had attracted publicity and attention of social media with the result that Meighan was attacked in the street on one occasion.

Due to low risk factors, Judge Lynch also did not bar Meighan from working with children.

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