Belfast Telegraph

Man who admitted sex offences against step-niece is jailed

A Belfast man who sexually abused his step-niece while the youngster visited her step-grandmother's house has received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence (stock photo)
A Belfast man who sexually abused his step-niece while the youngster visited her step-grandmother's house has received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence (stock photo)

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Belfast man who sexually abused his step-niece while the youngster visited her step-grandmother's house has received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence.

As well as abusing the teenager and assaulting another niece, the man - who cannot be named due to legal reasons - also attacked his brother with a hammer.

Handing the 31-year-old the sentence at Belfast Crown Court, Judge David McFarland yesterday also imposed a five-year restraining order against his three victims.

The order bans the man from contacting or harassing his brother, niece and step-niece.

Before passing sentence, Judge McFarland heard that over a period from September 2016 to June 2018, he committed several sexual offences against his step-niece.

The victim, who was aged between 12 and 13 at the time, was targeted by the defendant when she visited her step-grandmother's home in west Belfast.

Prosecuting barrister Kate McKay said the abuse included kissing her on the mouth, touching her over clothing and trying to get her to touch him.

The defendant also admitted assaulting his niece (19), who was also targeted when she visited her grandmother's house. She recalled that some time between May and June last year, her uncle started a sexual conversation with her before pushing his crotch into her back.

Mr McKay said that on August 14 last year, the defendant arrived at his brother's home armed with a hammer. The incident resulted in the man's brother sustaining a hand wound and the defendant was arrested.

The defendant made admissions during police interviews.

Defence barrister Greg Berry QC said his client has been in custody since last summer and has now served 15 months. He revealed that his client has used his time in prison "productively" and has attended courses in education and substance misuse.

Regarding the offences against his two female relatives, Mr Berry said that no force was used and they were at the lower end of the scale and that "he did not persist this conduct when it was clear it was not welcomed".

The sentence will be divided between 15 months in prison and 15 months on licence, and the man will be on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period.

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