Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile's jail term increased by three years

Pervert: Richard Francis
Pervert: Richard Francis

By Staff Reporter

A convicted paedophile who was jailed last year for raping a woman when she was a nine-year-old girl has been sentenced for three further years after admitting more offences.

Richard Francis (38), with an address given as Maghaberry Prison, is currently serving a 14-year sentence for twice raping and indecently assaulting a female child on various dates during 2006.

Aged 26 at the time, he first took his opportunity to sexually abuse the child during a hide-and-seek game, later culminating in rape.

Originally from Fermanagh, Francis denied the charges and last year stood trial at Dungannon Crown Court, where he was convicted on all counts.

Earlier this year, he was back in the same court in relation to further similar offending, this time involving a male child, which occurred before the matters for which he is imprisoned.

Originally accused of 22 child sexual offences, Francis pleaded not guilty to all, but later changed this and accepted 17 offences over a two year period between 1993 and 1995.

Yesterday the court was told Francis was aged between 11-13 at the time of offending and his victim was aged around nine to 11. The victim first reported matters to police in January 2018.

Prosecution Counsel Jackie Orr QC said an aggravated factor was the victim's very young age, but likewise it had to be accepted Francis was also a child at the time.

Ms Orr also told the court the guilty pleas had brought "considerable relief" to the victim, which saved him from the trauma of giving evidence. It was accepted Francis had a clear record at the time of offending.

Defence counsel Richard Greene QC said his client wished to apologise, and his "guilty pleas reinforce this to the victim... He accepts the tragic consequences caused".

Judge Neil Rafferty QC paid tribute to the victim, stating: "One of the aspects of sentencing is to give the victim finality.

"It is a sense they have done the right thing and had the bravery to confront what has happened… but they will inevitably ask, 'why me?'"

Speaking directly to the victim, the judge said, "I do not underestimate the bravery you have demonstrated."

The judge added: "I want to tell you this and I want you to believe it - you were not to blame.

"Nothing you did was your fault. There was nothing you could do as a nine-year-old child to prevent this. You are blame-free. Live the rest of your life blame-free. Do not think this is a blight to the rest of your life. It may require you to be brave, but you have already shown you have that bravery within you."

Turning to Francis, Judge Rafferty said: "I am satisfied this conviction has brought forward a change in you and an honesty in what you have done to others. I hope that is a permanent change."

Imposing the sentence, the judge added although Francis is now an adult, he is required to be dealt with as a minor. In addition, his name being placed on the sex offenders register was ordered indefinitely and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed until 2033.

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