April 2013

Newry mum relieved at sex attacker’s conviction

A Newry mother has spoken to The Examiner of her relief that the man who sexually assaulted her teenage daughter and her sixteen year old niece has been convicted of his hideous crimes against the two frightened young girls.

Denis Lancaster is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to serious sexual assault with penetration on a minor and another sexual assault on the sixteen year old without consent.  Since carrying out the attacks on the night of the 19th October 2010, at a family party, Lancaster has protested his innocence and further compounded the trauma of his victims and their families by attempting to tarnish their reputations with scurrilous lies and insisting that the teenagers instigated the incidents.

The distraught mother, whose daughter was just fourteen when she was attacked, disclosed how Lancaster had pounced on her child, forcing her into a downstairs toilet and subjecting her to a horrific sexual assault.  Following the attack, he climbed out of the window and returned to the house as his young victim was being comforted by relatives.  He calmly asked her what happened but the young girl was too frightened to reveal to her family what had taken place.  Lancaster then made his way upstairs where he inflicted a further terrifying assault on his first victim’s cousin, who was sleeping upstairs.  She managed to fight him off and when the two girls confided in each other the next day, they bravely decided to inform their families.

The mum of five described the day her daughter told her what had happened as the day “my life fell apart.”

“I remember collapsing at the bottom of the stairs screaming,” she said.

“My daughter had only just turned fourteen ten days earlier. I felt sick. How could he do this to my baby? Neither of these girls deserved any of this. Lancaster abused two wee girls that night. After assaulting my daughter he came back looking for more” added the mother.

Once Lancaster was arrested the victims and their families endured an ordeal which was to last over two years, as they waited for the case to be heard.  The Newry mum revealed how her daughter became depressed and suicidal as she relived her nightmare and waited on justice to be served.  The brave young victims finally heard their attacker plead guilty to his crimes in a hearing on 26th February and faced him again in court on March 22nd where sentencing was expected to be passed.

The judge however had only received Lancaster’s pre-sentencing report, which suggested that he was a high risk to reoffend, and remanded him in custody for sentencing on 9th April. Even in court the families’ could not escape Lancaster’s malice, as the mother claims Lancaster growled in her daughter’s face as he passed and, in a previous court hearing, even blew a kiss to her niece,  his second victim.

Relieved that their attacker has finally pleaded guilty, the families now nervously await his sentencing, hoping that he will receive an appropriate jail term so he cannot inflict the pain they have endured on anyone else.

Three further charges of rape, sexual act by an adult on a child and sexual assault by penetration have been left on Lancaster’s books, leaving open the possibility that they may be revisited in the future.