Northern Ireland

Judge dismisses Belfast ex-legionnaire's sex abuse claim

Justice statue

A former French Foreign Legionnaire has failed to prove allegations that he was sexually abused at a Catholic boys' home, NI's most senior judge has ruled

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan rejected the claim for damages "because of overwhelming evidence".

The judge ruled the plaintiff did not stay in a single room at Rubane House, Kircubbin, County Down, 29 years ago

It was seen as vital to the 41-year-old Belfast man's case that he established he slept apart from the other boys.

Sir Declan found against him on the crucial point after saying it would have been a significant departure from the usual policy within the chalets.

He said: "In light of my finding on this issue, I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the plaintiff was abused as he alleges.

Loyalist paramilitary

"In those circumstances I must dismiss the claim."

The plaintiff, who was later jailed for the attempted murder of a top loyalist paramilitary before having his conviction overturned, alleged that he was subjected to months of sexual assaults after moving into the home as an 11-year-old boy in 1982.

In a case against De La Salle Provincialate, he accused one Christian Brother of abusing him repeatedly after he was put into one of the single rooms.

Threats were also made that he would be sent to a Dublin borstal and kept from his family if he told anyone, he alleged.

His allegations were categorically denied, with lawyers for the order accusing him of making "scandalous" false claims in a bid to get money.

During the High Court hearing the man said he decided to sue after seeing his alleged abuser on television.

'Serious injury'

He said his "blood boiled" when the Christian Brother's image forced him to relive events at the home.

It emerged that he later joined the French Foreign Legion, only to be discharged after three years due to a serious injury.

Sir Declan set out how the plaintiff relied on a history of sexual abuse within the home following investigations in the 1980s and 1990s.

Although the prosecution of another of the Christian Brothers was stayed as an abuse of process, it was regarded as highly probable that he had sexually molested a number of children.

However, the judge held that these separate cases did not help the plaintiff's case.

Sir Declan identified some concerns about his reliability as a witness, including his failure to report alleged flashbacks to doctors.

Central to his ruling, however, was the failure to establish that he was in a single room during the period in question.

The judge stated: "In my view the evidence on this issue was overwhelmingly against the plaintiff."