Northern Ireland man raped son from age of three and abused daughter
A Northern Ireland man has been convicted of sexually abusing his young son and daughter.
During a trial lasting over two weeks, Dungannon Crown Court heard distressing evidence. It included a video interview with the little boy who, when he was aged just three, was warned not to tell of the abuse or he "wouldn't get to go on the tractor".
The defendant, who is aged in his 40s and cannot be named to protect the identities of his children, was convicted of multiple charges, the majority of which relate to the boy.
These involved specimen and specific counts of rape on various dates between 2009 and 2014.
However, the jury cleared the defendant of one count of sexually abusing his daughter and making threats to kill both children.
The abuse began when the boy was three and ended when he was eight. The defendant sexually assaulted his daughter when she was aged four.
He refuted the allegations throughout, claiming his children were "coached and primed" by their mother. He claimed she previously said she would destroy him and make him "a bitter, twisted, lonely old man".
The defendant claimed he had been excluded from his children's lives and said his wife "was never there for him".
He contended he had argued with his wife, over her refusal to help him with sheep, and told her he "wouldn't waste the powder of a shot on her".
The defendant claimed this was an expression of a person's uselessness, but his wife had "turned it around into a threat to shoot them all".
His claims were refuted by the children's mother. She told the court she was happily married until the death of the defendant's father in 2011, after which his behaviour changed.
She explained her son kept the abuse secret for years until he told a doctor, who then informed his mother.
She returned to the family home and confronted her husband about the abuse of the boy. At this point she knew nothing of the assault against the girl, which emerged later during a discussion with a social worker.
The mother left the family home taking the children with her. They were housed for a time in a refuge while police and social services investigated.
Video evidence played to the court heard the boy recall the first incident occurred when he was aged three and playing with his toys.
He was "dragged" from the playroom by his father into the master bedroom. Using basic terminology, the child described what had occurred. This was later be classified as rape.
When the episode ended, the defendant warned the youngster: "Don't tell mummy or I'll not let you go on the tractor." The boy knew he was aged about three by the toys he had been playing with - a truck and little train.
The abuse would continue with the boy for several years, but he told no one.
In respect of the daughter, the prosecutor said she told a social worker what she saw in respect of her brother's abuse, and then disclosed an assault by her father on her.
The prosecution said: "It is our case the little girl was the victim of an act of defilement by her father… we say the case is convincing, cogent and consistent with a very horrible tale."
In response, defence counsel said: "You may think (the defendant) is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but that does not make him guilty of the vile offences against his son and daughter. We say (the wife) made allegations against our client in 2013 of the vilest nature."
Remanding the defendant into custody, Judge Neil Rafferty adjourned for pre-sentence reports and victim impact statements.
The defendant will be sentenced in August.