Northern Ireland

Three men on trial over child sex abuse

Two brothers and a family friend have gone on trial accused of multiple serious sex offences against children, including rape.

It is alleged the offences took place during the 1990s.

The three men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, face a total of 56 charges including rape, gross indecency, sexual assault and cruelty.

On Tuesday, a court was told that a card game was used to determine who would abuse the children first.

The victims, who are siblings, reported the abuse to police in 2012.

They allege it was carried out by their father, uncle and a family friend over a prolonged period.

The court was told that the father of the two victims began the abuse before involving other men.

The three defendants cannot be identified in order to protect their alleged victims.

The court will hear from one victim that, on one occasion, eight or nine men were involved in the abuse during parties at the family home, the prosecution said.

Outlining the case, the prosecution warned the jury that during the trial they will hear harrowing details.

On the opening day of the trial the court heard from one of the alleged victims.

He said he was abused between the ages of seven and 11.

He described in graphic detail alleged sexual encounters with the man he referred to as his "biological father".

He also said he was physically abused, including having a cigarette stubbed out on his hand and being forced to drink water from a pint glass until he could not breathe.

Under cross-examination, a defence lawyer asked the alleged victim about when he first reported the abuse.

He said he had indicated that it was going on to Social Services, but nothing was done about it.

The lawyer responded: "Isn't it the case that they didn't believe you?"

He added: "I have to put it to you that none of this happened."

The alleged victim, who no longer lives in Northern Ireland, said he could not agree with that.

The defence are due to continue their questioning on Wednesday and it is expected that the other victim will take the stand.

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks.