November 2014: Currently living in the stanley area
Former Esh Winning man moved to Ireland
A SEX attacker has been brought to justice more than two decades after his crimes when one of his victims got drunk and revealed details of his childhood ordeal.
James Ferris had married, started a family and emigrated to Ireland by the time his shameful past in County Durham caught up with him in the summer of 2008.
Police were called when the victim confided in his mother, and when a second person was asked about possible abuse, it emerged Ferris had assaulted her too.
Ferris, 46, denied two charges of indecency with a child and one of indecent assault, but was found guilty after a trial last month at Durham Crown Court.
He appeared at Teesside Crown Court to be sentenced yesterday, and was jailed for two years by a judge who told him: “I cannot overlook these matters.”
Defence barrister David Callan told the court that the father-of-two risked losing his job, his home and his marriage if he received a custodial sentence.
Mr Callan said Ferris was “a different person” from the one who committed the child sex crimes in the 1980s and had worked hard to provide for his family.
Judge Peter Bowers said a significant amount of the psychological problems suffered by the victims – now in their 30s – had been caused by Ferris.
Ferris, formerly from Esh Winning but now living in Tuam in County Galway, was also ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for the next ten years.
The court heard how the demolition worker threatened one of his victims that the bogeyman would “get him” if the child did not comply with his demands.
Prosecutor Katherine Dunn sad he now feels uncomfortable around men and children, ashamed of what happened and turned to drink and drugs to cope.
The other victim said in an impact statement that she has had trouble forming relationships, has significant trust issues and a low self-esteem.
Judge Bowers said: “It is clear it has had a profound effect upon them and I don’t think one can underestimate the likelihood that this conduct caused certainly a significant amount of the psychological problems they have suffered over the years.”
Mr Callan said Ferris handed himself into police when he learned they wanted to speak to him three years ago, and has never tried to avoid extradition.
“These convictions have been like a bomb exploding in his family,” added the barrister. “It has caused a great deal of upset.