Northern Ireland

Rapist pensioner from east Belfast jailed for 20 years for abuse of nieces

Belfast Crown Court
Image caption The pensioner was convicted in October by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of 31 offences

An east Belfast pensioner who waged a "degrading campaign of rape and sexual abuse" against his two nieces has been jailed for 20 years.

A judge told the 75-year-old that the offences he had committed were "the most horrific this court has ever had to deal with".

The pensioner cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the identity of his victims.

He was convicted in October by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of 31 offences.

He was found guilty of eight counts of rape, 15 counts of indecent assault, three counts of common assault two of cruelty to children, as well as other offences.

The jury heard that the offences started when his nieces were aged just six-years-old and took place at the family home between 1964 and 1979.

The victims had told the court of repeated acts of rape, sexual assault, physical violence and extremely degrading conduct carried out against them by the uncle they called "the b-----d in the attic".

During a video interview with the police, one victim told detectives how she was terrified of her uncle, who lived in the attic of the family home.

Wiping tears from her eyes, she said: "I remember on one occasion coming down the stairs to the hallway towards the front door and he came out of the parlour.

"I pushed myself into the wall. He lifted his hand and banged my head against the wall.

"I can remember the pain.....I never told my mum about the sore head."

She claimed her uncle was quick to mete out physical assaults.

"You would get a boot in the back or to the side or to the stomach," she added. "If you didn't get moving it would have been in the stomach.

"I don't remember my mum seeing any bruises on us."

Cruelty

Passing sentence, the judge said the victims had been abandoned by their parents "whose duty was to protect them".

The judge told the defendant: "You subjected these children to repeated physical and sexual abuse and to grotesque acts of cruelty.

"The victim impact reports state that you have ruined their lives.

"The harm that you inflicted had a rippled effect, destroying their marriages and personal relationships and affecting the children of at least one of the victims."

The judge said that the aggravating features in the case were that the victims were young and vulnerable; the defendant was in a position of trust as their uncle; and the offences took place in the family home over a 15-year period.

"You subjected these children to serious acts of violence and threats, humiliating and controlling them," she said.

The judge said the pensioner had been assessed by the probation service as being at medium risk of reoffending but also "presented a significant risk of serious harm" in the future.

"I share that view," she said.

"The probation officer said he found you to be cold, detached and unsympathetic.

The pensioner was put on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life and was also made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for an indefinite period.

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