Northern Ireland

Belfast man jailed for sexual abuse of step daughter

A Belfast man convicted of sexually abusing his six-year-old step daughter has been jailed for five years.

The 30-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect his young victim, was convicted last April of three counts of indecent assault and two of committing an act of gross indecency with a child.

He has also been barred from unsupervised contact with anyone under 16, including his own child.

Belfast Crown Court heard that the man still maintains his innocence.

At his trial in April, the jury was told the man was having an "on-off" relationship with the young girl's mother.

It was said that the pair had a child of their own, but that when the man was released from prison in January 2007, he began to sexually abuse his step-daughter.

The abuse, the court heard, amounted to inappropriate touching on numerous occasions between 13 January 2007 and 18 October 2008.

On Wednesday, Judge Gemma Loughran gave the man an extended sentence with an extra two years to be served on license. He must also sign the police sex offenders' register for life.

Judge Loughran said that she was imposing the extended sentence in order to protect the public from future offences as the man had been deemed a dangerous offender.

She said she was looking at his "significant" criminal record which contains offences of assault, although nothing of a sexual nature.

She also cited the fact that police have been called to his home to deal with domestic disputes and altercations "on a number of occasions".

She told the man his offences were aggravated because his victim was so young and because he was in a position of trust. She also said that since he continued to deny any responsibility, he displayed "no victim empathy".