Northern Ireland

James McKeever: Victim tells how life was affected by sexual assaults

Former deputy mayor of Derry City and Strabane, James McKeever
Former deputy mayor of Derry City and Strabane, James McKeever

A WOMAN sexually abused as a child by former deputy mayor of Derry City and Strabane, James McKeever, has told how her life was affected by the assaults.

McKeever (63) was found guilty at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday of eight offences spanning from August 1981 to December 1988.

The victim, who was between seven and 14 at the time, said the councillor, who has been expelled from the SDLP, was a "nasty piece of work".

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she met McKeever through a family member.

"Jim McKeever sexually abused me on multiple occasions," she told BBC NI.

"From a young age he started to touch me and it was just continuous for years.

"I was scared, I felt dirty all the time. It was just an awful time in my life.

"After it all stopped I kind of blocked it from my head… but when I started to go out and drink and stuff I would cry a lot.

"Looking back, when I became an adult, the stuff he did to me was completely wrong."

The woman said she did not disclose the details of the abuse to her family until much later in her life.

"In 2018, I decided I couldn't take any more, and came out and told my mammy. It has been a long process, I am happy I have done it," she said.

She said she had been "overwhelmed" by the support of her friends and family.

"I am out the other side of it and I am stronger for it," she said.

McKeever, who fostered about 50 children with his wife over many years, had denied all the charges.

He will be sentenced in September.

:: If you, or anyone close to you, has been affected by the issues in this article, please contact the Samaritans on 116123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000.