Man who raped girl in game of hide-and-seek jailed

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

A Co Fermanagh man was jailed for 14 years on Friday for the rape of a nine-year child during a game of hide-and-seek.

Richard Francis (37), of Willougby Place, Enniskillen, was found guilty after a 10-day trial at Dungannon Crown Court in May.

Francis had denied two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault on various dates during 2006.

The jury heard how the abuse began during a game of hide-and-seek. Francis later he re-established contact with the victim, who challenged him about his behaviour and he claimed to have thought she “wanted him to”.

She told him: “You are as bad as Jimmy Savile.”

Then aged 26, he first sexually abused the child in a shed when the girl played with other children while visiting a relative.

Passing sentence at Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, Judge Neil Rafferty QC said a victim report showed that the complainant has suffered “severe psychological harm”.

The judge noted that while the report was being compiled, the victim “cried” and had “difficulty in coming to terms with what happened to her”.

Judge Rafferty said the prosecution had outlined a number of aggravating factors in the case: the victim was very young; she was vulnerable; and that there was a significant age difference between her and the defendant.

The judge said he believed the first incident was “opportunistic” but stated that there was also “some degree of premeditation to develop the modus operandi” regarding the other offences.

Judge Rafferty jailed Francis for 14 years for one count of rape and 14 years concurrent on the second rape charge. He also sentenced Francis to 30 months concurrent on each count of indecent assault.

Francis was also made the subject of Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for a period of 15 years, was placed on the barred list of working with children and vulnerable adults and was ordered to have no contact with a child under the age of 16.