Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams’s sex abuser brother, who is being held in high-security custody in Northern Ireland amid concerns he is under threat, should be jailed for at least 15 years, a judge has been urged.
Liam Adams, 58, from west Belfast, was convicted last month of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter Aine Dahlstrom in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Crown lawyer Ciaran Murphy QC told judge Corinne Philpott today that guidelines indicated 15 years was an appropriate starting point for a sentence, before aggravating or mitigating factors were considered.
During a pre-sentence hearing at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Murphy insisted there were a number of aggravating features to Adams’s crimes that the judge should take into account, including the abuse of trust committed, the young age of his victim and the fact he repeatedly offended.
He also noted the dramatic and enduring impact on Ms Dahlstorm - who has waived her right to anonymity - which he said had been outlined in a “dignified” victim impact statement she had produced for the court.
“It has clearly disturbed Aine Dahlstrom throughout her life,” he said, as the victim looked on from the public gallery of the court.
But arguing for a lesser sentence, defence lawyer Eilis McDermott QC highlighted the health problems of her client.
Bespectacled Adams, who walks with the aid of a stick, watched impassively from the dock as his lawyer detailed his ongoing treatment for both inflammation of the arteries (temporal arteritis) and osteoarthritis.
The barrister also revealed that he was currently being held in maximum security due to his family associations.
“He is being held in the highest secure conditions in prison and that’s because of the family of which he is a member and it’s considered by the prison authorities that he might be under threat because of that particular circumstance,” she said.
Suggesting such measures would have to be taken throughout the length of whatever sentence was handed down, she claimed her client’s time in prison was set to be “even more onerous” than other prisoners.
After the potential aggravating and mitigating factors were presented by the lawyers, much of the remainder of the hearing was taken up with legal discussions between them and the judge on the possible restrictions that would be applied to Adams upon his eventual release.
At the conclusion, judge Philpott said she would reserve her sentencing decision to give her time to consider all the matters raised.
“I will deliver judgment as soon as I have made up my mind,” she said.
A jury of nine men and three women found Adams guilty on 10 abuse counts last month. The court today heard that he still maintains his innocence.
At the start of the pre-sentence hearing, judge Philpott told the paedophile, who sat in the dock in a red jumper, grey shirt and cream trousers, that eight outstanding counts against him would be left on the books.
His conviction has seen pressure heaped upon his high profile older brother to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.
During a first trial earlier this year, which ultimately collapsed, the Sinn Fein leader, now a TD in the Irish Republic, claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him.
The former west Belfast MP has been criticised for not informing the police at the time of the revelations, with his statements to detectives not coming until 2007 and 2009.
PSNI officers ultimately made a recommendation to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that no prosecution be taken against the Sinn Fein veteran.
Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman has since launched a formal investigation into whether detectives properly examined if Gerry Adams covered up the crimes.
The region’s Attorney General, John Larkin QC, is examining the role of prosecutors in the case.
Gerry Adams has insisted he has committed no offence and has accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.