May 2015

Pensioner jailed for child sexual abuse

ohareA remorseless paedophile pensioner from Ballynahinch, Co Down has been handed maximum jail sentences for the historical sex abuse he inflicted on two young victims.

Judge Piers Grant jailed 70-year-old Christopher O’Hare for a total of six years at Downpatrick Crown Court on Monday, for seven offences of indecent assault and six other similar offences.

The judge told O’Hare, who rejected the jury’s findings and still denies any wrongdoing, he was imposing the maximum sentences because the consequences for one victim her were so cataclysmic that he deserved a “significant custodial sentence”.

At the end of his trial last February, the jury of six men and six women deliberated for around three hours over two days before returning to find O’Hare unanimously guilty of a total of 13 counts of indecent assault – six against one victim and seven against another.

In relation to the second victim, who was abused on various dates between 1 April 1986 and 1 March 1990, the jury found him unanimously not guilty of four counts of rape and three further charges of indecent assault.

After some further deliberations, the jury also acquitted O’Hare of four more counts of indecent assault but were “hopelessly split” on the last remaining charge.

During the two week hearing, the jury heard evidence that when the now grown up girls were around eight years old, O’Hare began to subject them to sickening bouts of sexual abuse when they were at his home on the Drumsnade Road in the Co Down town.

For the first victim, her ordeal began in 1977 and only stopped in 1981 when she told her abuser what he was doing “wasn’t right” so he stopped.

She testified that O’Hare “regularly” touched her inappropriately over her clothes as part of a “game” but that he also touched her under her clothing.

The deviant’s second victim recounted how O’Hare also subjected her to numerous and regular bouts of inappropriate touching when she stayed at his home and the pervert sneaked into the room to abuse her.

During police interviews and while giving evidence on his own behalf, O’Hare denied each and every allegation, claiming his victims were lying as a result of a grievance against him.

On Tuesday Judge Grant said there were numerous aggravating features to the case not least that O’Hare had abused two victims over a prolonged period of time, had abused the trust which had been placed in him and had left his victims suffering from devastating, life-changing consequences.

According to the reports compiled on O’Hare however, he had “no insight or remorse” into the damage he has caused and still maintains his innocence.

Judge Grant said “one can only hope” that now the trial was over “and she has the benefit of knowing that the jury believed her that that will have a cathartic effect” on her long term treatment and recovery.

The only mitigating factor was O’Hare’s clear criminal record but the judge told him that given his crimes “that is of little weight”.

As well as the jail term, Judge Grant imposed a lifelong Sexual Offences Prevention Order, barred O’Hare from working with children and ordered him to remain on the police sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

April 2015

Paedophile is remanded and facing a ‘significant’ jail sentence

A BALLYNAHINCH pensioner is in prison awaiting sentence on child sex abuse charges.

Christopher O’Hare (70) was remanded in custody after his sentencing hearing at Downpatrick Crown Court on Friday.

Judge Piers Grant QC deferred his decision on the length of the jail term until Tuesday but warned O’Hare he could expect to spend a “significant” time behind bars.

In February O’Hare, of Drumsnade Road, was found guilty on 13 counts of indecent assault involving two girls aged between eight and 11.

The offences took place at his home between 1977 and 1990.

O’Hare, who faced 25 charges in total, was found not guilty on 11 counts, including four of rape. 

After around five hours of deliberation at Downpatrick Crown Court the jury failed to reach a decision on the remaining charge.

The guilty verdicts related to indecent assaults during a ‘scary bull’ game O’Hare played with one of the victims and indecent assaults inflicted on both girls in a number of rooms in the house.

The jury had been told that some of the counts were specimen counts to reflect alleged repeat offending over a period of time.

The not guilty verdicts related to the rape charges and included some of the allegations of assault that were alleged to have occurred outside the main home.

In his evidence, O’Hare repeatedly said “no”, “never”, “not true” and “absolute rubbish” when asked if he ever assaulted the girls.

The former mechanic said he believed they had been manipulated by others.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, prosecuting lawyer Jackie Orr QC said O’Hare had deliberately targeted his young victims and that there were a number of aggravating features involved, including the age difference between O’Hare and the girls. 

She said the impact of O’Hare’s offending had been serious but chose not to outline the details in open court.

Ms Orr noted that the law for indecent assault offences committed up to 1989 involved a maximum sentence of two years, which was afterwards increased to 10 years. She said that while some of O’Hare’s offences may straddle this period “the benefit should be given to the defendant”.

Defence lawyer John Orr QC asked for a period of probation to be included in the overall sentence.

He pointed out that O’Hare’s indecent assault offences were not at the higher end of the scale and that he was assessed by the Probation Service as being at a low risk of reoffending.

Mr Orr also outlined a number of medical conditions that his client suffered from including hypertension, back pain and osteoarthritis. 

He  pointed to a report from a consultant psychiatrist which said O’Hare was finding it difficult to come to terms with going to prison and outlined the potential effect of the “sudden realisation”.

“He would be at a high risk of developing an adjustment reaction,” the psychiatrist noted.

The medical reports also indicated that “down the road” O’Hare would need “particular attention” from the prison authorities with regards to his health.

Mr Orr commented: “A man in good health would find prison much easier to deal with than the accused who is not in good health.”

Judge Grant said, however, that O’Hare’s medical conditions “could be well catered for in prison”.

He said the pre-sentence reports also showed O’Hare had a “lack of empathy” for his victims and was “seeking to minimise his involvement”.

He said imposing a period of probation could be problematic as O’Hare was “effectively denying that he has done anything wrong”.

Adjourning the hearing until Tuesday, Judge Grant said he wanted time to consider the overall sentence, but told O’Hare that “a significant custodial sentence must be imposed”.

“What you did to these two young girls has been immensely damaging to them,” he said.

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February 2015

Co Down pensioner convicted of abusing girls

A jury has unanimously convicted a Co Down pensioner on 13 counts of indecent assault against two girls between 1977 and 1990.

However on Thursday, 70-year-old Christopher O’Hare, from Drumsnade Road in Drumaness, was cleared at Downpatrick Crown Court on four counts of rape against one of the victims. 

He was also cleared on a further seven charges of indecent assault but the jury of six men and six women were undecided on one count of indecent assault.

The Crown are to take instructions as to whether O’Hare will face a retrial on that count, but Judge Piers Grant warned O’Hare that he faces a “certain” prison term for the convictions.

Sentencing was adjourned until 24 March and O’Hare was released on bail after signing the sex offenders register.