Belfast Telegraph

Pensioner 'is a dirty, filthy man', alleged victim tells child abuse trial

By Staff Reporter

A Strabane pensioner accused of historical sex offences against four girls in a family was "a dirty, filthy man, who betrayed family trust", an alleged victim has said.

The litany of charges, which include gross indecency, are alleged to have spanned a 12-year period.

The accused, who is aged in his 80s, cannot be named to protect the identity of the alleged victims.

He faces 22 counts of indecent assault and single counts of gross indecency with a child and inciting gross indecency with a child.

The offences are alleged to have occurred on various dates between March 1984 and April 1996, with the injured parties claiming they were around eight or nine when they were first abused.

All the charges are denied.

A jury at Dungannon Crown Court heard the accused and his wife would call at the girls' family home on a reasonably regular basis.

The wife would stay downstairs talking to other family members, but the defendant would go upstairs to the girls' bedrooms.

The complainants described him "messing about, grabbing and tickling them", kissing their faces and trying to touch their breasts and genital areas.

They said he would lie on top of them or hold them against a wall while pressing himself hard on their bodies.

At these times, the accused allegedly restrained the girls' hands with his own above their heads, so they could not push him away.

One of the alleged victims broke down in the witness box while being cross-examined by defence counsel, and struggled to give her evidence through tears.

Sobbing, the woman denied she had made up the allegations, saying: "I haven't talked about this before. This is the cap in the bottle. It has come off. We know what happened to us.

"My memory is very clear, as if it was yesterday. It's not pretend. It's real. I have lived with this for 33 years. I wish I could change it."

The woman became so distressed at this point she struggled to speak between heavy sobbing.

Judge Paul Ramsay QC ordered a short adjournment to allow her to compose herself.

When the hearing resumed, the woman explained that if she and the other girls were outside playing and they saw the defendant's car arrive at their home, they would avoid going indoors.

On other occasions they would hide by squeezing themselves into the upper shelf of a cupboard. She described being thrown against a wall, with her hands restrained above her head by the defendant.

This would be on a weekly basis from the ages of 11-15, she claimed.

The defence asked: "If this occurred as you say, did you not ask him to stop?"

The woman replied: "I wish to God I had. I told him to get off (another girl).

"He was always on top of her. He tortured her. We were always telling him to get off her."

Asked why she did not cry out, she said: "The terror stopped us from screaming."

Defence counsel enquired: "Have you ever considered receiving money for the allegations you have made?"

The woman, clearly distressed, replied: "What amount of money would pay for what he did? This is for justice."

The defence lawyer said: "That's all very commendable, but when did you become aware you could get money?"

Sobbing, the woman replied: "That would be dirty money. No amount of money is ever going to compensate for what that man did to us. We were terrified of him."

The defence lawyer said: "I suggest you are lying. The problem with lying is it's difficult to remember the truth, and the problem with the truth is, it's difficult to forget."

The woman replied: "The truth is here. I know what I suffered. I know what I went through as a child."

But the lawyer continued: "You say, according to your account, all these alleged incidents, and yet you didn't say stop.

"I suggest you are just making all this up."

She responded: "Why would I do that? He was a dirty, filthy man who betrayed family trust and ruined my life."

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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