Belfast Telegraph

SDLP's Catney speaks out about brother's conviction for sex attacks on child


By Claire McNeilly

An SDLP MLA has spoken publicly for the first time about his adopted brother's conviction on sex charges, saying that the incident shocked the family.

Pat Catney described the actions of his sibling Jim, who admitted sexually assaulting a young girl, as indefensible and he said his thoughts and prayers remain with the victim.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Belfast Telegraph, the Lagan Valley Assembly member said his brother's case was a "dark time" for everyone concerned, but added that his sibling has not been disowned by the family.

"I try to be protective of him but we have to think of the victim," said Mr Catney, who is perhaps best known as the former owner of the original Kitchen Bar in Belfast city centre.

"We've got together as a family and we have thought about the young girl, who's now a woman. We all think of her and pray for her.

"As a family we felt a sense of shame when we found out what had happened, although we'd no control over it.

"We didn't know anything about it. It came as a complete shock. Jim was out of our lives for a long time, maybe 30 years."

He added: "It happened a long time ago. He admitted it. Not in Jim's defence, but he's a chronic alcoholic - and now a recluse."

James Catney (67) was handed a three-year sentence, suspended for three years, placed on the sex offenders register for life and made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order in May of this year. He entered guilty pleas to three counts of gross indecency and three of indecent assault.

The offences took place on dates between December 31, 1990, and January 1, 1994, when Catney was aged between 41 and 44 and the victim aged between eight and 11.

Catney's lawyer told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that although it was accepted that the custody threshold had been passed, "highly exceptional circumstances" justified suspending the sentence.

The court heard that Catney had developed behavioural problems from the age of 16 when he discovered he had been adopted and started to abuse alcohol.

In today's Meet the MLA interview, Mr Catney also said he had not turned his back on his recovering alcoholic sibling, adding that, as a father himself, what happened "hit him particularly hard".

"I spoke to Jim about what he did and how wrong that was; he understood that," said Mr Catney.

"I don't think you really can understand it when that comes home to you.

"It's there but we have to try and manage it and try to live through it.

"I find it very difficult and I'm quite angry with Jim."

Belfast Telegraph


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