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Former Armagh teacher and convicted paedophile faces return to jail for litany of child sex abuse

Having been led to the living room, instead of using her hand to touch his private parts, a former victim clenched her fist and, with the weight of years of torment and nightmares behind it, she punched him in the face

A paedophile pensioner and former teacher has been told to expect a jail sentence after he admitted 30 charges of historic child sex abuse.

Appearing at Newry Crown Court via videolink from his solicitor’s office, 75-year-old Phelim McGuigan entered guilty pleas to a litany of offences committed against a single female victim.

These include 24 counts of indecent assault, five of committing acts of gross indecency with or towards a child and one of taking an indecent photograph of a child, all committed over a six year time span between September 1984 and September 1990.

Following his confessions, prosecuting counsel Geraldine McCullough asked for a further nine similar offences to be “left on the books” while defence barrister Justin Byrne agreed that he was seeking a pre-sentence probation report and medical report ahead of sentencing.

Mr Byrne was granted his further application for McGuigan to be freed on bail pending sentence but Judge Gordon Kerr QC warned that though being freed, the pensioner “may anticipate and expect that one of the most obvious options, given the nature of this indictment, will be an immediate custodial sentence so he should prepare himself for that”.

McGuigan, from Rock Lodge on the Ashgrove Road in Newry, already knows what is ahead of him having been jailed in 2014 for previous offences committed against his goddaughter and niece when she was a little girl.

The teacher, who taught maths at St Brigid’s High School in Armagh, had pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault and a further count of committing an act of gross indecency with or towards the girl on dates between January 1, 1985 and December 31 1990.

The court heard then that instead of caring and nurturing his goddaughter and niece by marriage, McGuigan began to sexually abuse her, forcing her to touch his private parts and take part in bizarre sex games.

Bravely waiving her right to anonymity to speak out so that her creep of an uncle could be publicly named and shamed, she described then how she was repeatedly sexually abused between the ages of six to 11-years-old with McGuigan forcing her to touch his private parts and take part in bizarre sex games.

“One of the first times the abuse began when I was around six,” she recounted at the time.

“I came out of the bathroom, was grabbed by the hand by McGuigan and led down the hallway to the living room at the very end. He basically set me on his lap and made me touch him. I didn’t understand what had happened, but I knew I didn’t like it.

“He seemed like a magician, appearing out of nowhere, leading me by the hand toward the living room, where it would start all over again.

“One of the strangest things McGuigan did was to take me to his bedroom and hide me behind the wardrobe. He never abused me there but I would just stand in there for what seemed like an eternity before running from the room, sweat pouring off me.

“Looking back, I still don’t understand this behaviour, other than giving him a sense of power but I do know that it made me feel humiliated.

“McGuigan once took me to the bathroom and asked me what clothes he wanted me to take off. I began with shoes, socks, etc…anything to avoid the underwear but when he got close to being down to his underwear, I went into a panic and grappled with the bathroom door handle until I was free.”

The abuse she had to endure came to an abrupt end however when she decided to fight back, literally.

Having been led to the living room, instead of using her hand to touch his private parts, she clenched a fist and with the weight of years of torment and nightmares behind it, and punched him in the face.

“I walked away and that’s when the abuse ended,” recalled McGuigan’s victim.

“I just remember thinking ‘I just can’t go through this again’ and I had landed the punch before I had anytime to feel anything.

“McGuigan looked shocked, there were no words spoken, just a lot of eye contact and an eerie silence, before he let go of my hand and walked away.

“I think he knew at that stage that ‘the game was up’ so to speak. I walked in the opposite direction knowing the nightmare had ended.”

After being handed a 21 month sentence in December 2014 when an order to spend nine months in jail and the rest on licence, McGuigan spent that Christmas behind bars.

He faces that prospect again with Judge Kerr ordering the pervert to stand before him for sentencing on 21 September.

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