Liam Adams rape conviction 'too little too late'

Liam Adams rape conviction 'too little too late'

The conviction and sentencing of Liam Adams for raping his daughter has been described as “much too little too late” by his victim.

The paedophile brother of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was told by the judge that he had committed the greatest breach of trust imaginable as he was sentenced to 16 years in prison today.

Aine Dahlstrom's solicitor issued a statement on her behalf after the sentencing.

"She has asked us to indicate her absolute relief that this nightmare seems at last to be coming to an end," said Joe Rice.

"This has put herself and her family and friends under the most enormous strain.

"She welcomes the jury's findings of guilt, the sentence as imposed by the learned Judge and has asked us to emphasise that all she ever sought was an acknowledgement of the many wrongs done against her.

"It is still much too little too late."

Liam Adams (aged 58) from west Belfast, showed no visible sign of remorse as a judge passed sentence in Belfast Crown Court, shaking his head occasionally during the hearing and then smiling and laughing as he was led from the dock.

As his crimes were committed at a time when offenders in the North were still eligible for 50% remission on jail terms - a policy that has since been reformed - Adams is set to be released after spending eight years behind bars.

The former youth worker was found guilty last month of a string of vile sexual assaults on his child Aine Dahlstrom when she was aged between four and nine in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The 40-year-old, who has waived her right to anonymity, wiped tears from her eyes as she watched on from the public gallery of Court 14 as her father found out the length of the jail term awaiting him.

Handing down the sentence, which comprised 16 years in custody and a further two years on probation, Judge Corinne Philpott said Adams' continued refusal to admit his guilt was still denying his daughter the closure she sought.

"It has been clear throughout that Mrs Dahlstrom simply wanted an acknowledgement from her father that what he had done to her during her childhood was wrong," she said.

"He has always denied her this acknowledgement and continues to do so.

"However she now at least knows that the jury must have found her evidence compelling as they believed her."

The judge added: "This case involved the greatest breach of trust imaginable where a father instead of caring for and protecting his daughter himself abused her."

Liam Adams, from Bernagh Drive, was found guilty of 10 offences against his daughter - three counts of rape, four of indecent assault and three of gross indecency.

The abuse was committed over a five-year period between 1977 and 1981.

Bespectacled Adams, dressed in brown jacket, jeans and blue checked shirt, supported himself with a walking stick as he stood to hear his sentence.

His convictions have heaped pressure on his high-profile older brother to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.

During a first trial earlier this year, which collapsed, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him while the pair were walking in the rain.

The former west Belfast MP faced criticism for not informing police about the alleged confession for another nine years.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers recommended the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) take no case against the Sinn Fein veteran.

The North's police ombudsman is now investigating if detectives properly examined whether Gerry Adams covered up the crimes and the PSNI has pledged to review the case.

The North's attorney general John Larkin is examining the role of prosecutors.

Gerry Adams, who was not in court today, instead attending the funeral of well-known priest Alec Reid in west Belfast, has insisted he committed no offence and accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.

Ahead of passing sentence, Judge Philpott outlined details of his brother's crimes.

Three of the convictions relate to an incident in May 1978 when he raped and further sexually abused his daughter when her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother.

The judge said Adams would warn his daughter that if she told on him he would be sent to jail.

"Mrs Dahlstrom told the court in the evidence that even as a young child she had an understanding that what was happening was wrong but that she did not understand why her father was doing it to her," she said.

Ms Philpott said he committed the abuse when he was angry, sometimes drunk and sometimes sober.

"She remembers the smell of his breath when he had taken drink and he was pressing down on her chest," the judge told the court.

Mrs Dahlstrom first brought the matter to police in 1987. This was in the midst of The Troubles and a time when many people in republican communities distrusted and refused to co-operate with the security forces.

She did not pursue the matter at that stage, claiming that detectives were more interested to hear information about her famous uncle than about the allegations she was levelling against her father.

It would not be for another 20 years before she went to police again, after finding out that her father was working in a west Belfast youth club that her children attended.

As well as spending two years on probation at the end of his prison sentence, Adams will be placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely and will be barred from working with children.

Among the aggravating factors the judge took into account when passing sentence were the age of the victim, the horrific nature of the crimes, and the continuing impact on Mrs Dahlstrom.

She said the victim had described how the abuse impacted on her education, affecting her concentration and motivation in the classroom, while in later life she has found herself being overprotective when it came to her own children.

Ms Philpott said the trial had also taken its toll on Mrs Dahlstrom and recalled how her evidence had to be delayed at one stage after she developed chest pains.

Another aggravating factor was the major breach of trust committed, the judge said.

Ms Philpott added: "The evidence has established in the view of this court that he used this child for his own sexual gratification, whenever he had the opportunity when her mother was not present in the house."

She said the only mitigating factors were his poor health - he suffers from both inflammation of the arteries (temporal arteritis) and osteoarthritis, a lack of significant previous criminal record, and the fact that no evidence of further sexual offending since 1981 had emerged.

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