Man convicted of abusing nieces can be named for the first time

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A man who was convicted of sexually abusing his nieces can be named for the first time after the victims waived their rights to anonymity.

Gerald O’Hara, of Beech Road, Limavady, was found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault by a Derry Crown Court jury earlier this year.

The court heard he abused two of his nieces when they around 15-years-old.

He abused one of the girls on just one occasion while she was babysitting his children.

The girl was staying in the house overnight and O’Hara came into her room and indecently assaulted her.

The second victim was abused on a number of occasions by the defendant.

The court heard some of the abuse took place in the kitchen and the bedroom of the defendant’s home.

O’Hara also abused the girl in a coal bunker attached to his house on more than one occasion.

During the seven day trial, the defendant claimed that the victims were ‘telling lies’.

The court heard that the abuse has had ‘long lasting effects’ on both of the victims lives.

It was also revealed they had both suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result.

A prosecution barrister said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case.

They include the number of victims and the protracted period of time the abuse occurred.

She added the abuse was a breach of trust, as the victims viewed their aunts home as a place of respite from their own home where there were a number of difficulties.

The barrister told the court the O’Hara’s house ‘ought to have been seen as a safe place’ for the victims.

Defence counsel Martin Rodgers QC said his client he ‘repects the judge, respects the jury and respects the outcome of the trial, but does not agree with it’.

He added that O’Hara maintains his innocence but accepts the verdict and has not instructed his defence team to lodge an appeal.

Mr Rodgers said the 65-year-old is a man of previous good character and has not committed any other criminal offences in the 27 years since he abused his nieces.

A number of references were handed into the court about the defendant.

Mr Rodgers said that there are members of the defendant’s immediate family who are currently receiving treatment for cancer.

He told the court that as a result of his conviction, O’Hara is ‘separated from his family at a time when he would have wanted to be there to provide support to them.’

Judge Philip Babington adjourned sentencing to consider the matter as it is not a ‘straight forward sentencing exercise.’

O’Hara was remanded in custody to appear in court again on May 23.