A Co Down man who abused three young boys under the age of 13 over a six-year period has been jailed.
The 53-year-old grandfather was jailed for 12 months by Judge Piers Grant, and will spend an additional 18 months on probation when he is released from prison.
Judge Grant said he targeted vulnerable young boys “in a planned, pre-meditated and calculated way”.
Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that the abuse occurred over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983 and happened in various locations in the Co Down village where both the abuser and his three young victims lived, including in their homes as he babysat, and in a disused lorry.
At the time of the offending, the defendant was aged between 14 and 19.
Passing sentence, Judge Grant noted that two of the complainants have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, while the third has an adjustment disorder.
Judge Grant also noted that the defendant had himself been abused as a youngster by four men. Judge Grant said that due to this experience, the defendant knew what he was doing to his three young victims was wrong, but that despite this, he “continued to behave in this way”.
Despite initial denials, the 53-year-old pleaded guilty to a total of 22 offences, including multiple counts of indecent assault and gross indecency.
The court heard that the defendant’s offending came to light in 2014, when the first complainant came forward. He told police that during the summer of 1981 he was abused by the defendant. The first incident he remembered was in his parents’ bedroom, when he was aged 12 and the defendant was 17.
When the defendant was arrested in October 2014 and questioned about allegations made against him, he initially denied the claims – but told police he had abused another young boy.
When this victim was contacted, he provided police with a full and detailed statement during which he said he was abused regularly by the defendant over a 10-month period. He also said that on some occasions, the defendant offered him money to perform sex acts.
This complainant was targeted when he was aged eight, and the defendant was 14.
The third complainant said he was sexually abused by the defendant on a regular basis for around two years.
Judge Grant said this victim was “threatened into silence” by the defendant, who at the time told his victim not to tell anyone or he would be in trouble.
Sending the man to jail, Judge Grant said it was “quite clear that on each occasion, you isolated the victims in order to abuse them ... and you kept them available to you and you alone”.
Accepting that the defendant had a troubled upbringing and was an alcoholic, Judge Grant noted there had been no further offending since 1985.
As well as being handed a jail term, the man was also made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order, and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period.