Jailed for sexually abusing three nieces

Bishop Street courthouse.
Bishop Street courthouse.

A Drumsurn man who sexually abused three of his nieces has been jailed for ten and a half years.

Derry Crown Court heard the abuse took place over a fifteen year period, starting in August 1978 when the victims were in primary school.

Gerald O’Hara, of Beech Park in the village, who had a previously clear record, will spend eight and a half years in prison and two years on probation. The court was told he still maintains his innocence and that his family members support him in his continuing denials. The 67-year-old was placed on the Sex Offender’s Register for life and will be subject to the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years after his prison release.

The abuse took place in the vicinity of the defendant’s family home and at times the victims were babysitting his children. When he was questioned about the allegations in 2014, the defendant denied them and said he was sickened by the accusations.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said there was no doubt O’Hara’s abuse has had a profound effect on the three victims. He said the abuse represented a serious breach of trust and involved a degree of planning and of pre-meditation.

Judge Babington said following his conviction last month, O’Hara was effectively driven out of his home village of Drumsurn. His car was set on fire and people threatened to burn down his family home.

The judge added: “It seems there are still occasional threats being made against him. He has had to leave the village but hopes to return in due course. This court strongly disapproves of such behaviour and recognises that this is an additional matter that the defendant will have to endure.”

Judge Babington described O’Hara’s behaviour against his three nieces as appalling and ‘done simply for his own self-gratification and pleasure’.

Following his release from prison, the 67-year-old is banned from having any contact with the victims.