Liam Adams sentenced to 16 years for raping his daughter

Aine Adams says result of trial is ‘much too little too late’

All she wanted was for her father to admit the “many wrongs done against her”, Aine Adams stated after her father Liam was on Wednesday sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping and indecently assaulting her when she was aged between four and nine years. The result of the trial was “much too little too late”, she said.

Imposing sentence at Laganside Crown Court in Belfast, Judge Corinne Philpott said Liam Adams, brother of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, used his daughter for his sexual gratification "whenever he had the opportunity when her mother was not present in the house"

“The case involves the greatest breach of trust imaginable where a father instead of caring for and protecting his daughter himself abused her,” said Judge Philpott.

On top of the 16-year sentence, Adams (58), from Bernagh Drive in west Belfast, who denied the charges right to the end, received an additional two years on probation.


The offences occurred between 1977 and 1983, when Liam Adams was aged between 22 and 26.

Sentencing system
Adams is likely to serve eight years in prison. He is entitled to 50 per cent remission under the sentencing system operating at the time of the offences.

Áine Adams, now aged 40, sat in the public gallery close to her husband Tony Dahlstrom, her sister Sinead and a police liaison officer as the judge issued the sentence.

Liam Adams, wearing a dark jacket and check shirt, stood in the dock as sentence was imposed. He carried a walking stick, as he suffers from arthritis. He shook his head occasionally as the sentence was read out and smiled and appeared to laugh as he was led from the dock.

Aine Adams spoke of "her absolute relief that this nightmare seems at last to be coming to an end". In a statement issued through her solicitor Joe Rice, she said the case had put "herself and her family and friends under the most enormous strain".

“She welcomes the jury’s findings of guilt, the sentence as imposed by the learned judge and has asked us to emphasise that all she ever sought was an acknowledgement of the many wrongs done against her. It is still much too little too late,” the statement added.

At the start of October a jury of nine men and three women, by an 11 to 1 majority, found Adams guilty of all 10 charges against him – three of rape, three of gross indecency and four of indecent assault.

"It has been clear throughout that Mrs Dahlstrom [Aine Adams] simply wanted an acknowledgement from her father that what he had done to her during her childhood was wrong. He has always denied her this acknowledgement and continues to do so," said Judge Philpott.

'Evidence compelling'
"However she now at least knows that the jury must have found her evidence compelling, as they believed her," she added.

The judge said that “even as a young child she had an understanding that what was happening to her was wrong, but that she did not understand why her father was doing it to her”.

Judge Philpott also referred to psychiatric and psychological reports and Aine Adams’s own evidence that told of how the abuse had affected her.

“She describes how she did not attend school and did not have the concentration to listen and learn in class. She said her teacher said she had the ability but did not have the motivation to achieve at school,” she said.

“She states that she was overprotective of her children and did not feel she could take advantage of adult education until these matters were dealt with in court,” added Judge Philpott.

“She has suffered from anxiety and indeed while giving evidence in this trial she suffered chest pain and her evidence had to be delayed while she received a medical check. I have no doubt that the delay and the trial process itself has taken its toll on her.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times