Two men jailed for abducting and raping girl (12)

Sentences totalling 15 and a half years given to men by judge over rape and sexual assault

Two men who abducted and raped a 12-year-old vulnerable girl were given jail sentences totalling 15 and a half years on Friday by a judge in Northern Ireland.

Gerard McKenna (30) was given a nine year sentence by Judge Patrick Lynch and his co-accused Paul Sheridan (25) was given a six and a half year sentence.

The Craigavon Crown Court judge explained the difference in sentencing was down to the fact that while McKenna denied the offences and still remains “highly confident” that he will be acquitted in appeal, Sheridan admitted his guilt and “did not subject the victim to any further humiliation”.

McKenna, originally from the Whiterock area of west Belfast but who has been in Maghaberry since the incident, was unanimously convicted of raping and sexually assaulting the 12-year-old victim and of sexual activity with a second victim, who was 15 at the time, offering to supply class A cocaine and two counts of child abduction.


Sheridan, of Hillfoot Crescent in Ballynahinch, entered guilty pleas to to two counts of raping a child under 13, two counts of sexually assaulting a child under 13 and two counts of child abduction.

It is almost three years ago since they abducted and raped the then 12-year-old girl and sexually assaulted her 15-year-old friend on the Lagan towpath.

The jury heard during McKenna’s trial that despite being told that the youngest girl was only aged 12, McKenna “held her hand and kissed her” before sexually assaulting her with his hand and raped her. Sheridan also kissed the girl and raped her while his sexual assault of the older girl was when he kissed her in the middle of a Spar shop in Lisburn.

The jury also heard how the pair gave the vulnerable young girls vodka mixed with lemonade and although the girls were offered cocaine, they refused the drug.

Judge Lynch said both men had multiple previous convictions and both had been assessed as posing a significant risk of causing serious harm.

As regards the effect of the rape and sexual assaults, Judge Lynch said he had read the victim impact statement from May last year where she outlined how the incident broke her, stole her innocence and left her scared and afraid.