Northern Ireland news

Woman jailed for sexually abusing step-son

A woman has been jailed for sexually abusing one of her step-sons

A Co Antrim man who exercised control over his two young sons with "brutal force" was jailed yesterday alongside his wife who sexually abused one of the boys.

Sending the couple to prison, Judge David McFarland said that despite being found guilty by a jury of offences against the children - which has had a significant impact on both victims - they had shown no remorse.

Citing the offences against the children in the family home in Newtownabbey as "a shocking breach of trust", the judge told the couple: "The children were well fed and well turned out, especially for church and school, but there was a darker secret or secrets to your family."

The pair cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainants.

The 62-year-old man was jailed for a campaign of child cruelty against his two sons from the ages of five to 16. His 59-year old wife was jailed for sexually abusing one of her step-sons when he was aged between 10 and 14.

The boys were beaten by their father between January 1984 and August 1996, including being lashed with the buckle end of a leather belt and punched in the face. The sexual abuse against one boy occurred between August 1991 and December 1995.

The couple were convicted at Belfast Crown Court following a two-week trial in December.

Sentencing the couple, Judge McFarland spoke of the "brutal force" used by the father.

"There is no excuse whatsoever for hitting children with a belt, and using the buckle end to inflict injuries," he said.

The court heard the defendant sustained very serious injuries in a road collision three years ago. Judge McFarland said that as a result of his health issues, he would reduce the prison sentence from 18 months to 12.

His wife was also jailed after she was found guilty by a jury of repeatedly indecently assaulting one of the boys by making him touch her sexually.

Branding her offending as "more subtle", Judge McFarland said she became part of the family in the mid-80s after the boys' mother left in 1982.

The sexual abuse occurred after the youngster was encouraged to get into bed beside his step-mum on Saturday mornings when his father was at work.

Judge said her actions had had"long-term consequences" for the victim.

She was sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by two years of probation. She was also banned from working with children and will be on the Sex Offenders' Register for ten years.

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