Gerry Adams’ brother loses rape conviction appeal

Liam Adams, a brother of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, has lost an appeal against his convictions and sentence for raping and abusing his daughter.

The 59-year-old was jailed for 16 years in 2013 after being found guilty of a string of attacks against his elder daughter, Aine Dahlstrom.

Delivering a reserved judgment, Justice Patrick Coghlin said: “The court has not been persuaded that the verdict of the jury was unsafe and, consequently, the appeal must be dismissed.”

Adams, formerly of Bernagh Drive in west Belfast, was convicted of 10 offences against Mrs Dahlstrom — three counts of rape, four of indecent assault and three of gross indecency. He watched the court proceedings via video link from Maghaberry high security prison.

The panel of three judges rejected all grounds of appeal, including pre-trial publicity, the credibility of witnesses and how the trial judge Corinne Philpott directed the jury.

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Judge Coghlin said: “There is no doubt that, as a consequence of the personalities involved, these proceedings attracted a very considerable degree of media publicity both before and, to a certain degree, subsequent to the trial. In the circumstances, we are not persuaded that the learned trial judge erred in the exercise of her discretion and, accordingly, we reject this ground of appeal,” she said.

The abuse started when Aine Dahlstrom was just four-years-old and was committed over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983.

The opportunist predator committed the crimes when he was left alone with his daughter, often sneaking into her room while she slept.

In later years, Adams went on to work in a number of youth centres in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mrs Dahlstrom, now in her early 40s, waived her right to anonymity. She was not in court for the appeal hearing but gave evidence during two trials. The panel of senior judges also consisted of Northern Ireland’s Chief Justice Declan Morgan and Justice Gillen.

The case was heard at Belfast Royal Courts of Justice.

Adams consistently denied the charges during a two-week trial at Belfast Crown Court, but the jury of nine men and three women had convicted him on all charges on a majority of 11 to one after four hours of deliberation.

The convictions heaped pressure on Gerry Adams to explain why he did not alert the authorities when he initially learned of the abuse allegations.

The Sinn Féin leader gave evidence during the first trial which collapsed on legal grounds. Insisting he acted properly, he accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.

Grey-haired and bespectacled Adams, glanced towards the ground as the verdict was delivered but showed little emotion. His wife Bronagh and daughter Claire Smith were seated in the public gallery for the brief hearing.

Adams’s barrister Eilis McDermott QC argued that the trial judge had not adequately dealt with the issue of burden and standard of proof.

She made a number of criticisms about the way in which the jury had been directed.

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