A Crown Court judge has warned that people who engaged in sexual abuse years ago will “have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives”.
Judge Piers Grant was speaking as he sentenced a 79-year-old man at Derry Crown Court.
The pensioner, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault on a female child that occurred between March 22, 1984 and March 24, 1987.
The 79-year-old admitted he had touched the child on three different occasions and one of them occurred when she was sleeping.
Passing sentence, Judge Grant said the accused was confronted with the allegations some 27 years ago and admitted them. He added the 79-year-old had been “shunned and ostracised” by the family since.
The judge revealed that the abuse had affected the injured party’s ability to have relationships and made her “an overprotective mother”.
Judge Grant suspended a 15 month sentence for three years. The pensioner was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for a period of 10 years.
Judge Grant said that courts had seen an increasing number of historical abuse cases and a clear message was being sent out “to anyone who thinks they can get away with this type of offence”.
He said: “The courts take a very serious view of this type of offence and anyone who has committed this will have to look over the shoulders for the rest of their lives.”
Judge Grant said that the victims in this type of case “often store up the distress and suffer from serious mental problems” which often only come to the fore in later stages of life.
He said that victims often do not make complaints in the early stages but he warned: “People who commit these very serious offences will find themselves before the courts.”