Victim of torture and abuse bravely urges others to come forward

Ashleigh McDonald
22 February, 2016 18:54

A TEENAGER who was tortured and sexually abused by two people he considered good friends has bravely waived his right to anonymity in a bid to help others to come forward.

In an ordeal lasting hours, Aodhan Woods was threatened with knives, had cigarettes burned on him, was bound and locked in a cupboard in a flat in the Stranmillis area of Belfast.

He was also subjected to several serious sexual assaults during which weapons including a drumstick and a microphone stand were used.

The young Belfast man said: "I thought I was going to die that night".

Jailing Darren Fu (20) for five-and-a half years and a co-accused for three, Judge Gordon Kerr spoke on Monday of the humiliation and degradation meted out to their victim, then aged 17.

Fu, from Drumart Walk in east Belfast, and the second attacker, who was 17 at the time and cannot be named due to a reporting restriction, will also serve the same periods on licence after their release and remain on the sex offenders' register for life.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Mr Woods' ordeal began on May 30, 2014 when he called to Fu's flat.

A previous hearing was told that he had been told by Fu to sell some Mephodrone and was worried before arriving because he had not sold enough.

The victim was attacked almost immediately and threatened with rape. At one point he had a pillowcase put over his head.

He also believed photographs were being taken, with threats issued that if he told anyone what had happened, the pictures would be released.

Mr Woods has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

Judge Kerr said Fu made the case that he could not remember what happened as it took place at a time when he was taking drugs excessively and was not in control of himself.

However, he pleaded guilty to four charges - false imprisonment, rape and two counts of sexual assault.

His co-accused - who claimed he was scared of what would happen if he didn't do as he was ordered to by Fu - admitted six counts including false imprisonment, two counts of sexual assault and attempted rape.

Judge Kerr branded the men's actions as "sadistic" and said: "It is hard to imagine the terror and feelings of helplessness he must have felt during this horrifying ordeal."

Mr Woods, who is now 19, said outside court that he did not see himself as a victim.

"I am speaking out to show other people that it's okay to go and tell the police if you have been sexually assaulted," he said.

"I want people to find the courage to come forward and get the support that they need."

He rejected claims that Fu cannot remember his actions.

"I find it totally impossible to believe what Darren said. I don't think that anybody could forget doing something like that to another person."

Mr Woods said he "wanted to scream with happiness" when he heard the length of the sentences.

"The past two years has been exhausting but it's over now. Any time I went into Belfast I had to look over my shoulder all the time.

"I've had really mad flashbacks, some of them are so vivid it's as if I'm back in the flat. I also can't go in to confined spaces now after being locked in the cupboard.

"Another big thing is trust issues. I find it really hard to trust people now and I was never like that before."

Thanking family, friends and police for their support, he added: "I would say to anyone else who has been sexually assaulted, don't be afraid, don't hide it. The only way to move forward is to tell someone and you'll soon realise there is so much support. Don't be afraid to speak out."

Mr Woods' mother Janice said she had been inspired by her son’s strength.

“He’s my hero, he’s my absolute hero and I couldn’t be prouder,” she said.

22 February, 2016 18:54 News