NI judge seeks submissions before sentencing Liam Adams

West Belfast native convicted last month of raping daughter in 1970s and 1980s

The Northern Ireland judge responsible for sentencing convicted sex offender Liam Adams has asked for further legal submissions before commencing her considerations.

Judge Corinne Philpott requested additional information from the probation authorities on what they believe to be an appropriate level of supervision for Adams when he is eventually released from custody.

The 58-year-old from west Belfast was convicted last month of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter Aine Dahlstrom in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In a mention hearing at Belfast Crown Court, where Adams did not appear, Judge Philpott said she wanted to establish the relevant probation officer’s views on whether a custody probation order or more restrictive Article 26 supervision measures would be required when Adams leaves prison.

Adams is being sentenced under the terms of historic legislation that existed at the time of the offences.

“I want her [probation officer] to provide a report indicating her views whether Mr Adams is suitable for a custody probation order or whether she thinks it’s an Article 26 case,” Judge Philpott said.

Defence submissions

The judge said she would begin her deliberations once she had the report and had received any related legal submissions from the defence.

She stressed the need to get the issue dealt with as soon as was practical as she did not want to overly delay the sentence.

Agreeing with that sentiment, Adams's barrister Eilis McDermott said her client was keen to know what his jail term would be.

“Mr Adams is anxious to know his fate,” she said.

Earlier this week at the substantive pre-sentence hearing, the prosecution urged the judge to send Adams to jail for at least 15 years.

In mitigation, the defence highlighted the paedophile’s health problems and claimed the conditions of his sentence were set to be “more onerous” than other prisoners due to the fact he had to be held in high security accommodation over fears for his safety.

Adams was convicted on 10 counts of rape and sexual assault. The conviction has seen pressure heaped upon his high-profile older brother Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.

During a first trial earlier this year, which ultimately collapsed, the Sinn Féin leader and TD in the Republic claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him.

The former west Belfast MP has been criticised for not informing police at the time of the revelations, with his statements to detectives not coming until 2007 and 2009.

PSNI officers ultimately made a recommendation to the Public Prosecution Service that no prosecution be taken against the Sinn Féin veteran.

Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman has since launched a formal investigation into whether detectives properly examined whether Gerry Adams covered up the crimes, while the PSNI has pledged to review the case.

Northern Ireland attorney general John Larkin is examining the role of prosecutors.

Gerry Adams has insisted he has committed no offence and has accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.

Press Association