Northern Ireland

'Sex predator' Alastair Carswell handed 14-year prison sentence

Alastair Carswell Image copyright Alan Lewis : Photopress Belfast
Image caption Alastair Carswell, 48, appeared in court on a total of 25 charges relating to child sex abuse

A man who sexually abused six children from the north Down area has been given a 14-year prison sentence for his "predator activity".

Alastair Carswell, 48, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, will spend seven years in prison and the remainder on supervised licence.

He was sentenced on Friday at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, on a total of 25 charges.

The court heard the charges included multiple offences of indecent assault.

Passing sentence, the judge said there had been a "pre-meditated nature" to some of Carswell's offending.

He said three of the victims had suffered long-term effects from "sustained periods of abuse suffered at the hands of the defendant".

'Malicious'

He added: "The sentencing must take account of the damage caused by the actions of a defendant, which by their nature can have consequences in terms of personal development and sense of self-worth, which blights the lives of the victims for many years."

The court was told that three of the victims were targeted on a single occasion, while Carswell's other three victims - two boys and a girl - were abused over a sustained and prolonged period.

The ages of the victims ranged from seven to 16 and the abuse was carried out between 1995 and 2012.

Carswell was arrested in connection with the abuse in June 2013, and denied the claims against him, branding them "malicious".

'Controlling'

He also claimed that after being involved in a road crash in 2007, he was left suffering from penile dysfunction.

A defence barrister told the court he acknowledged Carswell was being sentenced for "serious matters", but said none of the charges were in the more serious category of a penetrative nature.

The barrister also said Carswell intended to comply with probation when he is released from prison, to try and get back "some semblance" of his life.

The court heard the judge talk of the need to protect the innocence of children, and described Carswell as a "person who is controlling and who is willing to exercise control over others".

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