Coleraine abuse trial: Court hears closing arguments

Coleraine courthouse The jury at Coleraine Crown Court is expected to retire on Tuesday or Wednesday

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The trial of three men accused of sexually abusing two children in the 1990s has begun hearing closing arguments.

The alleged victims are a brother and sister who claim they were abused by their father, uncle and family friend.

The jury at Coleraine Crown Court is expected to retire to consider its verdict on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The three men face a total of 56 charges including rape, gross indecency and cruelty.

On Monday, the prosecution told the jury they would not be presented with any more evidence in the case.

In a closing statement, the lawyer asked the jurors why the alleged victims - who now lead very different lives and have had no contact with the accused - would make up the allegations.

He said: "Why would they subject themselves to open court and, in one case, a very personal, intimate, medical examination?"

'Propensity'

In reference to suggestions during the trial, from the accused, that there were "no children present" at drunken parties, the prosecution asked how these alleged victims would know about the parties ever taking place.

The prosecution also made reference to the fact that two of the accused - the father and the uncle - have pleaded guilty to charges of sexually abusing their sister in the 70s and 80s.

Those charges include gross indecency and indecent assault. The lawyer told the jury that showed a "propensity" to commit the kind of offences which two of the men face.

In summing up, the prosecution said: "Either this is a case where the (alleged victims) have waited for years and then collaborated to concoct wicked lies or, in fact, it is the case the accused used these alleged victims as objects for the gratification of their own sexual desires."

The defence barrister for the man described as a family friend then addressed the jury.

He is accused of sexual offences against the alleged female victim.

The lawyer reminded the jury that the alleged victim had given two written statements and a video interview to police in 1998 in which there was no reference to parties or to her client.

The lawyer said that it was a case were, due to the passage of time, there were many crucial lost evidential opportunities.

She said the key fact the jury must keep in mind came in evidence given by the mother of the alleged victims.

'No medical evidence'

The mother said that overnight stays on Wednesday and Saturday nights had stopped in 1994, after she had separated from her husband and got a new house.

The defence barrister contended this meant the abuse described after this date could not have happened.

The barrister also told the jury it was important to consider the lack of evidence when it came to considering the verdict in this case.

She said no-one noticed anything untoward, there was no medical evidence, the alleged female victim could provide no description of the other men she alleged were involved in the abuse, and that no-one ever interrupted any of the abuse.

The barrister said there was only one simple, common-sense explanation and that was: "The people did not exist and the parties did not happen."

She added: "People do sometimes make things up and people do imagine things."

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