Man escapes jail for abusing cousin when teenager in 1970s

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A 58-year-old man who as a teenager sexually abused his young cousin has been freed when his year-long sentence was suspended for 12 months.

Judge Patricia Smyth told the Co Down man, who can’t be named to protect the identity of his cousin, that his “repeated abuse” had caused his victim life-long harm affecting all areas of his life.

The man, who was aged 12 to 14, and his cousin, eight to 10, when he carried out the abuse in the early 1970s, pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault, which Judge Smyth said were sample counts of “repeated acts of sexual abuse”.

The Crown Court judge, who also ordered that he be put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years, said while his offending was planned and repeated up to six times, he was at the time “young and immature and the law recognises that”, although in later years he served a prison term for abuse he committed as an adult.

However, Judge Smyth told the man that his pleas had also “saved your victim the ordeal of giving evidence in public about these terrible crimes, which no doubt would have retraumatised him”.

And she added later: “There is no sentence that I can pass that will change the harm you have done to your victim. He comes to this court seeking justice for the harm that has impacted his whole life.”

Judge Symth said that it was the “fervent hope of this court” that the man’s guilty pleas “gives your victim the peace of mind he needs”.

The man was also told that as a result of his sentence, his name may appear on the children’s and vulnerable adults barring list.