Man jailed for sexually abusing step-daughter

Londonderry Crown Court

A 57-year-old man has been sentenced to nine years in jail for sexually abusing his step-daughter.

Londonderry Crown Court heard the abuse took place in the family home, sometimes several times each week.

The man faced a total of 14 charges spanning a five-year period, starting from January 1987, days before the girl's First Holy Communion.

They included six of gross indecency and eight of indecent assault.

The sex offender, who is registered blind, also abused his victim a day before she was due to have surgery.

On Wednesday, the court heard abuse took place in the defendant's bed where his wife, the girl's mother, had passed out in a drunken stupor.

Both the man and his wife, who has since died, were alcoholics at the time of his offending.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told Judge Elizabeth McCaffrey that the abuse stopped when the victim, aged 11, pushed her step-father away, causing him to fall over a table.

'Dysfunctional household'

A defence barrister said the defendant sustained a serious brain injury as a result of a 2013 assault ands as a result was unable to remember his offending.

The barrister said the offending took place in an essentially dysfunctional household and the injured party was the main victim of that dysfunction.

He added prison would be onerous for the defendant, because of his medical difficulties.

Judge McCaffrey, said the victim had shown great courage to report the abuse and had been vindicated by her step-father's admissions.

'Lasting impact on victim'

She said the complainant, who has a hugely supportive husband, still suffered from issues arising from the years of abuse including a low self esteem, a difficulty in having an intimate relationship and over-protectiveness of her children.

She told the defendant: "There is no doubt the number of offences you committed over a prolonged period of time on a child of tender years, for whom you had a caring role, makes it a very serious matter.

"Your behaviour has had a lasting impact on your victim".

The accused was then sentenced to nine years custody, three of which will be on probation.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register and will be subject to the requirements of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.

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