Newry man awaits sentencing for abuse of two sisters

September 14, 2015

A Newry man who pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent assault against two sisters will be sentenced this week.

Twenty seven year old Darren O’Hanlon from Forkhill Road, Newry admitted to carrying out the assaults over a two year period between September 2003 and June 2005.  O’Hanlon was aged 15 when the abuse took place while the young sisters were aged 9 and 10 respectively when it began.

A prosecuting barrister told Newry Crown Court on Friday 4th September that the defendant was a close family friend of the victims and was entrusted to babysit them at their family home, where some of the assaults took place.  Other assaults also took place in his own home.

The abuse was first reported two years ago when one of the victims confided in her boyfriend, who then contacted O’Hanlon on Facebook.  The defendant then contacted the victim pleading with her not to go to the police.

The court heard that O’Hanlon, who had no previous record, was questioned by police about the allegations but continued to reply “no comment” during interrogation.  He did however admit to carrying out the offences to the victims’ mother and brother but continued to maintain his denial up until a jury was sworn to court.

His defence barrister argued that the case was unique in that the defendant was 15/17 at the time of the abuse and that immediately before the abuse began there had been a “significant upheaval” in O’Hanlon’s family situation. The defence barrister suggested that his “out of character” behaviour may have been linked to the changes in his life and highlighted the fact that he had never re-offended and was now a “model citizen.”

Defence added that O’Hanlon fell into the “lowest category of culpability, harm and risk” and that a short custodial sentence  was “not going to work in this case.”

O’Hanlon is due for sentencing tomorrow, Tuesday September 15th, at Newry Crown Court.