A man branded “one of the oldest defendants to come before the courts here” has avoided a jail term after he admitted sexually abusing his younger brother over six decades ago.
The 86-year old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the injured party, was handed a suspended sentence and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years after pleading guilty to a charge of indecent assault.
Belfast Crown Court heard that whilst the abuse occurred on dates between 1956 and 1958, the complainant only came forward “recently”, and that when questioned by police, the defendant said he acted the way he did out of “naivety and curiosity.”
Prosecuting barrister Kate McKay said the indecent assaults occurred in the family home in north Belfast in the bedroom that the brothers shared.
Highlighting a ten-year age gap between the siblings, Ms McKay said the older brother indecently assaulted his younger brother on a number of occasions, and it stopped when the injured party “threatened to hit him if he did it again.”
Ms McKay said abuse only emerged “recently” when the injured party, who is now 76, told a number of people that he had been abused by his older brother in his youth.
The defendant - who came to court with a completely clear criminal record - was interviewed last April, and admitted he had touched his brother.
Regarding the injured party, Ms McKay said what occurred when he was younger has had a lasting impact on him, and has been “living with him for many many years.” She added the abuse was carried out in the injured party’s bedroom in the family home “where any child should feel safe.”
Defence barrister Alan Kane QC cited the case as “peculiar” and noted his client was “one of the oldest defendants to come before the courts here.”
Mr Kane said the incidents of touching were “spur of the moment, with a degree of naivety and curiosity”, adding his elderly client was sorry it occurred.
The barrister pointed out the pensioner’s clear criminal record, a complete absence of relevant re-offending and a good working record.
Pointing out the offending was “60+ years aho”, Mr Kane said “these two brothers have had a good and amicable and supportive relationship” but spoke of a “breakdown more recently involving an external matter.”
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said that dispute “a very long period of time having elapsed”, the younger brother has suffered from “on-going hurt.”
Handing the defendant an eight-month sentence, which was suspended for 12 months, Judge Miller said: “This man is in his 87th year and presents no risk to others.”