A 35-year-old Co Derry man has been jailed for 15 years at the Crown Court sitting in Coleraine for what a judge described as “a catalogue of rape” against his two step daughters.
The man who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims in the case admitted six counts of rape against the two children and one charge of sexual activity with a child and one of attempted rape.
All of the offences occurred over a number of years from January 2010 through to March 4th 2020 when one of the victims was aged between 10 and 14 and the other victim aged between 6 and 9.
The court heard the defendant entered into a relationship with the mother of the victims but had to move out of the family home in 2016 after concerns were raised with social services.
He moved back into the home in 2018 without permission.
The offences came to light when the older victim broke down and told her boyfriend what had happened.
Details of the offences were outlined to the court which normally occurred in the family home when the mother had gone to work.
One of the girls told police she had been abused by the man “ever since she could remember”.
Judge Philip Babington said that initially the defendant had pleaded not guilty but less than a week before his trial was to begin he had changed his plea.
The judge said the two victims had viewed the man “as a father figure” and that the whole family was “devastated” when the offences came to light.
Judge Babington said while the defendant had denied any attraction to children he was ‘concerned only with his own selfish sexual desires”.
He said there was a “high likelihood of reoffending” but the offender had not been deemed as dangerous although the court had concerns about that.
As regards the man’s guilty plea the judge said “the two young complainants had to wait until nearly the last minute to learn that what they were saying was true”.
He added that the offences were aggravated by the fact they took place in the family home where the children “should have felt safe and secure”.
Describing the offences as “a catalogue of rape” the judge said there were “multiple offences of rape committed over years”.
The man was sentenced to 15 years in prison, ordered to sign the sex offenders register for an indefinite period and to observe a Sexual Offences Prevention Order again for an indefinite period.