March 2015

Former loyalist paramilitary admits historic abuse charges

A 70-year-old man who has appeared in court on historic sex abuse charges has been intimidated from his Shankill home.

Allistair Alexander Cousins – who spent time in jail in the 1970s and 1980s for loyalist paramilitary offences – admitted three charges of indecent assault which were committed on a teenage girl over three decades ago.

The pensioner, from Hopewell Crescent in Belfast, will be sentenced for the offences at a later date after the hearing was adjourned to allow him to attend a psychiatric appointment.

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay told Belfast Crown Court that the offences were committed on dates between July 1986 and January 1989, when the girl was aged between 14 and 16.

Ms McKay said that prior to the offending – which took the form of “innappropriate touching” – Cousins made comments about the changes in her body that puberty brought about, which made her “feel uncomfortable”.

The court heard that Cousins then started to touch and squeeze her both under and over her clothing “whilst under the guise of hugging her” at a house in the Shankill area of the city.

The prosecutor said the girl didn’t disclose what happened to her “for various reasons”, and the first person she told was her husband-to-be.

Acknowledging there was a “significant delay” in reporting the matter to police, Ms McKay said the woman was interviewed about the abuse in July 2012.

The woman, the court heard, has experienced low moods and difficulties coping which she has attributed to “the after-effects of the abuse that she suffered at the hands of the defendant”.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC heard that while Cousins has “serious matters” on his criminal record, he has “nothing of this type of offending”.

The two previous convictions in 1973 and 1980 were for robbery and associated offences “committed in the paramilitary context”.

Saying the abuse against the teenage girl was at the lower end of indecent assaults, defence barrister Eilis McDermott QC said her client had accepted his guilt.

She also revealed that Cousins “has most unfortunately been intimidated from the area where he lives and is now living with relatives”.