Pensioner found guilty of abusing niece

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A pensioner from west Belfast has been found guilty by a jury of abusing his niece - but acquitted of abusing her sister.

The 71-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court where he stood trial on a total of six counts of indecently assaulting his two nieces over a three-year period in the 1980s.

The Crown made the case that the girls were abused by their uncle on a number of occasions when they were in their teens.

Following a short trial which began this week, the former hospital porter was acquitted by a jury yesterday on three counts of indecently assaulting one of the girls.

Earlier on Thursday, the jury of seven men and five women returned majority 11-1 guilty verdicts on the remaining three charges linked to her sister.

Whilst they rejected the evidence of one of the sisters, the jury accepted the evidence of her sister, who told the court she was indecently assaulted by her uncle whilst babysitting her younger cousins.

She said she was targeted by her uncle as she slept in bed when she was aged around 14.

As part of her evidence, she told the court: “I never told anyone. I was too afraid that I would not be believed. It would have started a riot in the family.”

The pensioner also gave evidence during the trial and denied abusing his two nieces on dates between June 1985 and January 1987.

Judge McFarland said he would allow time for pre-sentence reports to be prepared, and said sentencing will take place at a later date.

Telling the west Belfast man that he was being released on continuing bail, he was warned not to take this as an indication “of what the ultimate sentence will be”.