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'I will regret that night forever': Uncle who raped his niece jailed for four years

He was sentenced to six years with the final two suspended.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A MAN WHO raped his 20-year-old niece following a night out has been jailed for four years.

The woman described in her victim impact statement how she had been very close to her uncle and had trusted and confided in him, considering him a friend as well as family. She told the court how divisions had arisen in her wider family following the offence.

The 33-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect his victim’s anonymity, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape and sexual assault of the woman at her home on 9 July 2016.

The accused man wrote a letter of apology to his niece saying he could not describe how sorry he was for what he had put her through. “Please do not let this affect your life,” he wrote, “please live life to the full and be happy”.

He said he would never forgive himself. “I will regret that night forever,” he wrote.

Justice Michael White said it was a case of “monumentally tragic proportions” and that an “entirely innocent victim” had suffered greatly as a result. He said she was in no way to blame for the divisions which had arisen in the family.

He said it was important to stress that this offence was not an individual issue between the woman and her uncle but was a crime against the public. He said a young person was entitled to be protected and their bodily integrity ensured.

Justice White said he hoped the divisions with in the family could be healed. He said the woman was “a totally innocent victim” and should not suffer any family opprobrium for that.

He said he found it very hard to understand “this ten minutes of madness”. He noted the accused had consumed a lot of alcohol but said this could not be an excuse or the whole reason for such a serious offence.

He took into account the accused man’s acknowledgement of his guilt within one hour of the offence and his genuine remorse. He noted the man was now suffering severe mental health difficulties. He said the offence appeared to be “totally out of character for the man he was”.

“He himself is devastated by his own actions and the consequences of these for [his niece],” said Mr Justice White.

He noted that the aggravating circumstances of the case included the fundamental breach of trust and breach of the relationship of a uncle and niece. He said it had had a devastating impact on the victim, in terms of how she lives her life.

Justice White imposed a six-year-sentence and suspended the final two years. He ordered that the man attend a suitable education course, either in prison or afterwards, under the supervision of the probation services, on the effects of sexual violence.

Tom Creed SC, defending, said the uncle and niece had been very close and effectively grown up side by side. He said the accused man was like an older brother and they frequently socialised together. He said an “enormous amount” of alcohol had been consumed on the night.

He outlined a psychiatric report which detailed the man had a history of depression and bipolar disorder. He said there was a reference to the man having been sexually assaulted as a ten year old. He said the accused had curtailed his drinking and was on antidepressants.

Read: Rugby rape trial: Rory Harrison told police alleged victim was ‘fixated on’ Paddy Jackson >

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Fiona Ferguson

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