Belfast Telegraph

Man who indecently assaulted nephew 24 years ago avoids jail

Judge McFarland said the guilty plea was welcome as it avoided a trial and acted as a
Judge McFarland said the guilty plea was welcome as it avoided a trial and acted as a "public vindication to the victim" (stock photo)

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Antrim man who indecently assaulted his nephew whilst renovations were taking place in the family home was spared jail yesterday.

The 65-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his nephew, was handed a six-month prison sentence which was suspended for two years.

He admitted indecently assaulting his nephew in November 1995, when he was aged 42 and the complainant was 18.

Belfast Crown Court heard that while the offence was "opportunistic" and a one-off, it did have a "significant impact" on the complainant, who in a victim impact report said: "Since my uncle pleaded guilty, there has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders."

Prosecutor Kate McKay told Judge David McFarland that in November 1995 the complainant was 18 and living in Co Fermanagh. An arrangement was made for him to stay with his grandparents in the family home in Belfast to help with renovation work.

At the time the defendant was in his 40s and living with his parents in the Belfast property.

Ms McKay said that due to the renovation work there was a lack of space, and the arrangement was that the complainant would share a bed with his uncle.

On the night of the offence the family had a meal which included wine. Later that evening, when both men were in bed, the uncle "rolled over to the complainant and told him he was gay and he loved him".

Revealing this left the complainant "shocked and speechless", Ms McKay said the uncle began kissing his nephew then indecently assaulted him. This made the complainant feel physically sick and the next morning he made his excuses, left his grandparents' house and went back to Co Fermanagh.

Ms McKay said the nephew told no one except his wife what happened, and didn't make an official complaint until 2016 when it emerged his uncle had sexually abused another family member in May 2016. The court heard the defendant has already been sentenced for that.

Defence barrister Gavan Duffy said the defendant "has always identified as a gay man but because of societal circumstances, he got married and had three children and has two grandchildren".

The barrister also said his client came out in his 40s, which led to his marriage ending, and he now leads a "very solitary existence" as his children and grandchildren have no contact with him due to his conviction for sexual abuse.

Judge McFarland said the guilty plea was welcome as it avoided a trial and acted as a "public vindication to the victim".

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