Man jailed for sex assault on his own niece

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A 36-year-old Belfast man who put his hand inside his young niece’s all-in-one pyjamas after kissing her on the lips has been jailed for six months and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Regiser for seven years.

Belfast Recorder, Judge David McFarland, told the man while he had expressed remorse and shame his was a case that required a custodial sentence given the breach of trust involved.

The Crown Court judge said it was necessary “mainly as a deterrent ... to any uncle who thinks that they can do this to their nieces, that a custodial sentence will flow from that conduct”.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his eight-year-old niece, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her three years ago in August 2016.

Prosecuting counsel David Russell said the man, who had been at a birthday party for the child’s older sister, was clearly drunk, having consumed a considerable amount of vodka.

He added that while putting the youngster to bed, he kissed her on the lips and touched her briefly on the outside of her pants after opening her ‘onesie’ pyjamas.

Defending QC Neil Connor said that by his plea of guilty, which spared his young niece the ordeal of having to give evidence, the man accepts kissing her and touching her inappropriately for what would have been a matter of seconds.

Mr Connor said the man, who has stopped drinking since the incident, had expressed his remorse and his feelings of disgust with himself for what he had done.

A spokesperson for NSPCC Northern Ireland welcomed the sentence handed down by Judge McFarland.

“This man preyed upon a vulnerable girl. His niece trusted him and, instead of caring for her, he abused that trust and subjected her to what would have been a terrifying ordeal,” said the spokesperson.

“This custodial sentence should send a clear message to anyone who is intending to abuse another young person that they will face the consequences of their actions.”