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Former children’s home house-parent who sexually abused boy granted lifetime anonymity

Newry courthouse police

A former children’s home houseparent convicted of historical sex offences against a boy has become the second paedophile to be granted lifetime anonymity by a judge.

Now aged in his eighties, he denied committing the offences during 1979 and 1980, but was found guilty by a jury.

Newry Crown Court heard the victim moved to England having grown up suffering severe mental health issues.

He described being placed in a facility at age 11 after his family life broke down, where the defendant sexually assaulted him on three occasions.

In the first incident, the defendant – described as “a large, towering man”, beckoned him into an office and asked: “Do you know what happens to naughty boys?”

The victim replied: “Yes, they get punished.”

He slapped the boy six or seven times, squeezing his buttocks between each strike.

Several weeks later the victim was again summoned to the office for alleged misbehaviour.

On this occasion, the defendant squeezed the boy’s buttocks but there was slapping, although he was sent away with a warning, “not to tell anyone or punishment would be worse”.

The final, most serious incident occurred when the defendant bent the boy over a desk and a penetrative sexual assault took place.

He then sent the boy to his room where he cried himself to sleep.

In evidence the victim stated: “You can’t tell anyone about things like that. That’s what I thought.”

The day after he left the facility, two police officers and a social worker visited him and enquired if anything had happened.

The victim said nothing, fearful he would be put back in care.

Years later, he remained haunted by the abuse and in 2018, became overwhelmed.

In harrowing video evidence played to the court he said: “This has destroyed my life. I can’t do anything without messing it up. I just want it to stop. I can’t find any happiness. I can’t maintain a relationship. Everything in my world is absolutely wrong because someone reprogrammed me when I was a kid. I can’t manage anymore.”

During police interview in 2019, the defendant confirmed he was Senior Houseparent at the facility between 1997 and 1982, but no recollection of the victim and, “adamantly denied the allegations.”

Slapping was definitely not allowed, he said, although he accepted “giving a clip on the rump” if needed, but that was frowned upon.

He insisted only very rarely being alone with a child in any room, and the door remained open.

But the jury did not believe him and returned guilty verdicts.

Sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for three years, the court was told the defendant showed, “limited insight into the impact of his offending.”

Press had previously requested the reporting ban imposed when the defendant first appeared in court, to be lifted on conclusion of the case.

The judge declined and granted lifetime anonymity over concerns of potential “vigilante attacks”, although no evidence supporting this was provided.

Until this year, only six permanent anonymity orders existed in the entire UK, all of which largely relate to murders and offenders being released under new identities. These includes the pair who murdered toddler Jamie Bulger and Maxine Carr for her role is covering for Ian Huntley in the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

That has now climbed to eight, with Northern Ireland now making up the further two permanent identity bans, despite the offences in this and the existing case not reaching the custody threshold.

The first was imposed by a different judge at Newry Crown Court in March within days triggering applications to extend similar orders post-sentencing,

The Lady Chief Justice has been repeatedly alerted to the issue but has declined to comment or intervene.

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