A female sexual predator who abused two teenage boys laughed and smirked in court as she was jailed for 28 months.
As 40-year-old Bernadette McKibben was led out of Craigavon Crown Court dock in handcuffs, a relative of one victim told her to “enjoy Christmas in jail Bernie” while others clapped and cheered.
Wearing a blue hoodie and blue denim jeans with her greasy, maroon dyed hair pulled into a ponytail, McKibben just laughed and smiled.
Outside the mother of one victim said while she was happy with the sentence, “I think she didn’t get as long as she deserved”.
“I am satisfied in knowing that we will be having Christmas dinner as a family but she’ll be having hers in jail,” said the woman.
At an earlier hearing married, mother-of-four McKibben, whose address is subject to a court imposed reporting restriction, pleaded guilty to five sex offences relating to the inappropriate touching, sex acts and full sex with two teenage schoolboys on dates between September 2013 and May 2014.
During his sentencing remarks Judge Patrick Lynch QC revealed how the offences came to light when the mother of one victim went to use the family laptop but her son had left his Facebook profile open.
“She saw messages between her son and the defendant of a sexually explicit nature and appeared to show that sexual activity had taken place between them,” said the judge.
The boys, who were just 14-years-old, gave video recorded interviews with the police where they disclosed how McKibben “started texting them both, talking dirty and saying she wanted to have sex with them”.
One of the boys told police the messages began in a normal context but they soon became sexualised when McKibben “told him what she would like to do to him,” texts and messages which “continued until they were discovered”.
Arrested and interviewed McKibben accepted there had been what she described as “sexual banter” but denied there had been any sexual activity.
In further interviews she claimed she couldn’t remember sending any sexually explicit messages but Judge Lynch commented that stance “seems to be her default position”.
Turning to the victims, the judge said it was clear from the various reports that they had been “profoundly affected”, with a loss of trust, loss of self confidence and emotional turmoil.
In contrast to that, however, Judge Lynch revealed that in probation and psychological reports submitted on behalf of paedophile McKibben, “she doesn’t accept her responsibility despite pleading guilty”.
He further revealed that in a psychologist’s report, the doctor agreed with the probation officer that her offences were “persistent and predatory activity” and that the expert “does not accept” her claims of alcohol-induced amnesia.
The judge said he had concluded that McKibben did not pose a significant risk of causing serious harm to others by committing further offences in the future but that in an effort to protect the public, he was imposing a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
Amongst the various conditions, McKibben is barred from social media, having unsupervised contact with children, contacting her victims or their families, beginning a new relationship without disclosing the fact that she’s a child abuser and from having any internet device which doesn’t store her web history.
Ordering McKibben to spend 28 months in jail and the same period under supervised licence, Judge Lynch said her crimes were aggravated because she had abused two victims after a “persistent pursuit” of them, the negative effect on them and the large age gap.
In addition, McKibben was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for the rest of her life and was barred from working with children.