Northern Ireland news

Man who sexually assaulted two-year-old son 'given lenient sentence'

The Court of Appeal in Belfast

A man jailed for sexually assaulting his two-year-old son received an unduly lenient sentence, the Court of Appeal ruled today.

Even though he has already been released from custody, senior judges held he must now complete three years probation for emotional harm inflicted on the boy and other relatives.

The order was made after two different partners claimed the man tried to "corrupt" them so that he could molest young children.

Lord Justice Stephens said: "It is inevitable that other family members will have feelings of betrayal, shock and disgust, together with feelings of loss of trust and confidence in others."

The man, who cannot be named, was sentenced to five months in prison last November following his conviction at Newry Crown Court on one count of sexually assaulting a child.

The offence was said to have been committed in 2011 while he babysat his son, given the pseudonym of 'Jack'.

At the time the man, referred to as QD, was living apart from the boy's mother.

She claimed that when she returned home Jack described being sexually assaulted by his father.

When she challenged QD he allegedly stated: "You knew who I was, it was not going to change, and if you accept that we would be together."

According to Jack's mother this was a reference to discovering child pornography on QD's computer.

The Court of Appeal heard he "admitted that he had been watching the images, explaining that normal sex did nothing for him".

No report was made to police at the time, with the boy's mother claiming she was frightened of QD.

But in 2015 another woman who was living with him in England alleged to police that he had used her laptop to show her pornography involving young children.

In her statement she described how he had told her "these are your choices" and asked if she would have a child with him so they could have an "open" family.

The woman said she understood this to mean starting a family where he would be able to sexually abuse their child.

He also allegedly told her he had had sex with his son, the court heard.

Although a charge of rape of a child was withdrawn, QD was found guilty of sexual assault.

Despite maintaining that no offence had been committed, his appeal against conviction was dismissed in February.

Lawyers for the Public Prosecution Service then launched a bid to have his sentence declared too light.

Backing their case, judges concluded that the term was unduly lenient both in the length of imprisonment and the failure to impose a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Lord Justice Stephens said QD should have received an 18-month sentence and been subject to a SOPO.

However, he also took into account the effect of double jeopardy on an offender facing the ordeal and uncertainty of a possible return to prison after being released and going back to England.

The judge confirmed: "Given that the respondent consents, we impose a three year probation order, containing a number of requirements, which commences as from today." 

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