Man 'abused his two nieces for years'
A County Down man has gone on trial accused of multiple charges relating to the sexual abuse of two nieces over a prolonged period, both of whom it is alleged were raped repeatedly from the age of six until their early teens.
The accused, who is aged in his forties, cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainants.
He faces a total of 32 charges over various dates, of which 17 are specific offences and the remainder specimen counts, reflecting alleged patterns of conduct.
Of these, 18 charges relate to one girl on dates between 2003 and 2012, involving 14 counts of rape, two of indecent assault, and single counts each of sexual activity with a child and assault.
The remaining 14 matters are in relation to the second child, which allegedly occurred between 2004 and 2010, and involve three counts of rape, eight of indecent assault and single counts of gross indecency and sexual activity with a child aged under 13.
The man denies all counts.
The jury at Newry Crown Court heard both girls would visit their relatives, with whom the defendant resided, on a very regular basis.
The elder girl said her first recall of abuse was when she was six. She described this taking place while aged about six and left her frightened and upset.
It was to become a regular occurrence thereafter, allegedly happening roughly every week or fortnight.
The complainant said the last incident occurred when she was aged about 13, and by this time she now understood what was happening, having learned sex-education at school. She claimed her uncle followed her into a bathroom and attempted to touch her, but she pushed him away. The uncle lashed out, slapping the girl across her face. However he never approached her again.
The younger complainant was also allegedly targeted from the age of about six. She recalled being alone with the accused, who told her they could have 'something special if she didn't tell anyone.'
This conduct was allegedly repeated numerous times over the coming years.
This complainant said the abuse stopped after she went to secondary school. She also recalled something of a fall-out within the family and visits became less frequent.
During a later stage of the alleged offending, this girl's sister found a note purporting to written by the defendant.
The court was told this note was passed to police and then analysed by a handwriting expert whose findings 'strongly support' the accused was the author.
The trial, which is being heard by His Honour Judge Gordon Kerr QC is expected to last just under two weeks.