A 26-year-old Co Antrim man who raped a four-year-old girl while her mother attended an evening class has been handed a seven-year prison sentence.
As well as spending seven years in jail, the man – who continues to deny the sex attack, despite being unanimously convicted by a jury – will spend an additional seven years on supervised licence.
In addition, Judge Gordon Kerr QC added a further extended licence period of three years for the protection of the public, meaning the man will spend a total of 10 years on licence.
Judge Kerr said the length of the sentence was to reflect the “repugnance that all right-thinking people will feel”, and the severity of the offence committed against the youngster by a man who was effectively her stepfather.
Also appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court was the youngster’s mother. She admitted a charge of doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.
The 27-year-old, who set up home with her co-accused after meeting him on the internet, admitted lying to medics and police about the nature of her daughter’s injuries.
She was handed a nine-month sentence, suspended for two years.
The woman, who no longer lives in this jurisdiction, found out she was pregnant with her partner’s child on the same day he sexually assaulted her daughter.
She has since given birth to a boy, while her daughter remains in the care of her relatives.
Judge Kerr told the court that after reading victim impact reports compiled in the aftermath of the rape on November 13, 2013, the youngster “reported feeling unloved and unwanted”.
He also spoke of the lasting effect such an incident will have on the victim as she gets older, especially the potential for emotional difficulties when she reaches adolescence.
Judge Kerr told the court that reports on the victim also suggest that she could suffer from long-term psychiatric problems including depression and anxiety, adding: “It is clear the impact will be life-long and serious.”