Pensioner who waged horrific campaign of rape and abuse against his two nieces is jailed for 20 years
An east Belfast pensioner who waged a "degrading campaign of rape and sexual abuse'' against his two nieces has been jailed for 20 years.
Judge Patricia Smyth told the 75-year-old that the offences he committed against the two "vulnerable girls'' over a 15-year period were "the most horrific this court has ever had to deal with''.
The judge said that because of threats he had made to them, he thought he had got away with his "evil'' crimes.
"In sentencing you, this court intends to make it clear that the passage of time is no safe haven for those who sexually abuse children,'' said Judge Smyth.
The paedophile pensioner, who cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the identity of his victims, was convicted in October this year by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of a total of 31 offences.
He was found guilty of eight counts of rape, 15 counts of indecent assault, two of attempted buggery, one of buggery, three counts of common assault and two of cruelty to children. The jury heard that the offences started when his nieces were aged just six years old and took place at the family home over a 15-year period between 1964 and 1979.
The victims had told the court of repeated acts of rape, sexual assault, physical violence and extremely degrading conduct carried out against them.
During a video interview with the police, one victim told detectives how she was terrified of her uncle. Wiping tears from her eyes, she said: "I remember on one occasion coming down the stairs to the hallway towards the front door and he came out of the parlour.
"I pushed myself into the wall. He lifted his hand and banged my head against the wall.
"I can remember the pain... I never told my mum about the sore head.''
She said her uncle was quick to mete out physical assaults.
"You would get a boot in the back or to the side or to the stomach.
"If you didn't get moving it would have been in the stomach.
"I don't remember my mum seeing any bruises on us.''
Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Smyth said the victims had been abandoned by their parents "whose duty was to protect them''.
The judge told the defendant: "You subjected these children to repeated physical and sexual abuse and to grotesque acts of cruelty. The victim impact reports state that you have ruined their lives.
"The harm that you inflicted had a rippled effect, destroying their marriages and personal relationships and affecting the children of at least one of the victims.''
Judge Smyth added: "You thought that your abuse would not be revealed.
"One of the victims told police that as a child you told her that if she told anyone, she and her siblings would be taken away and nobody would ever find them or see them again."
The judge said that the aggravating features in the case were that the victims were young and vulnerable; the defendant was in a position of trust as their uncle, and the offences took place in the family home over a 15-year period.
"You subjected these children to serious acts of violence and threats, humiliating and controlling them.''
The judge said the pensioner had been assessed by the Probation Service as being a medium risk of reoffending but also "presented a significant risk of serious harm'' in the future.
The officer also stated in the report that the paedophile "hated his victims''.
The judge said that she had considered handing a life sentence for what the prosecution had described as his "depraved campaign of rape and sexual conduct''.
She said: "Although you have committed some of the most horrific offences this court has ever had to deal with and you have shown no remorse, I am satisfied that a very lengthy determinate sentence is sufficient to protect the public.
"But for your age and the fact that you do not appear to have committed any further offences in the intervening years, I would have imposed a life sentence.''
The pensioner was jailed for 20 years concurrent on the charges of rape, and sexual assault of his victims.
Judge Smyth also imposed concurrent sentences, ranging from 18 months to 20 months, on the remaining charges of indecent assault, gross indecency, common assault and cruelty to children.
Belfast Telegraph banned from making identity of paedophile public
The Belfast Telegraph has been banned from making public the identity of this paedophile.
A court has ordered that no details pertaining to the identification of the offender or his address be published in any publication or released to the media. Paul McDonnell from McKinty and Wright Solicitors said: "Under certain legislative provisions including section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, courts have the power to prevent the publication of the identity of participants in legal proceedings, including the name of the defendant. This power should not, however, be exercised for the comfort and feelings of a defendant, and the name of a defendant should be published in all but very limited circumstances. Such orders may be made in circumstances where publication of the identity of the defendant may lead to identification of the victim, who in cases involving sexual offences, has an automatic right to anonymity.
"Whilst such an order remains in place, it is contempt of court for the media to name a defendant. The Belfast Telegraph has raised concern on several occasions about transparency within the justice system in Northern Ireland."