Newry sex offender begins five year jail sentence

April 15, 2013

By Christine Keighery

The brave victims of an unrepentant sex offender who accused his young prey of instigating the depraved attacks against them, finally achieved justice last Tuesday morning, as they listened to a judge sentence him to  5 years and 3 months in jail.

A packed Newry courtroom, which included his victims and their families, listened as Denis Lancaster of Lisdrum Avenue was handed the sentence by Judge Finnegan, who also placed him on the sex offenders register for life and ruled that he would be subject to the Sexual Offences Prevention Order for ten years, which includes a ban from speaking to any female aged under eighteen. Lancaster had previously pleaded guilty to serious sexual assault with penetration on a minor and another sexual assault on the sixteen year old without consent.

Last month The Examiner revealed that Lancaster had been convicted of the shocking sex offences which took place at a family party on 19th October 2010.  The distraught mum of one of the victims disclosed to us 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 but later returned to the house. As his traumatised young victim was being comforted by relatives, Lancaster took advantage of the distraction and 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.

Lancaster continually protested his innocence and further compounded the trauma of his victims and their families by attempting to tarnish their reputations with scurrilous lies, insisting that the teenagers had instigated the incidents. His web of lies was unravelled however by a catalogue of forensic evidence against him.

Passing sentence, Judge Finnegan said if Lancaster had not finally admitted his crimes, he would be facing a much heavier sentence if found guilty after trial.

In addition to the restrictions placed on him, the former juvenile boxing coach received a barring order which means he is never allowed to work with children again.  The Judge also directed that he undertake an Alderwood programme while in jail. The programme aims to protect victims and get sex offenders to accept full responsibility for their offences and behaviour and gain insight into the harm and pain that they have caused in committing the offences.

Following the sentencing, the mother of one of the teenage victims spoke to The Examiner of her family’s joy that their “nightmare ordeal” is finally over and the sexual predator’s lies have now been fully exposed.

She said “Everyone now knows what he did and when he gets out of jail, they will still know what he did.  We achieved that without the girls having to endure the ordeal of a trial.  After everything they’ve been through, the trauma of that would have been too much and that means more to us.”

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.