Forkhill man convicted of indecent assault of adopted sister

February 6, 2017

A Forkhill man has received a suspended sentence after being convicted of six specimen counts of indecent assault against his adopted sister from February 1998 to 2004.

During the recent sentencing hearing at Newry Crown Court, Judge Paul Ramsay provided an outline of the background of the case against 29 year old Gavin Ferguson of Carrickasticken Road.

The court heard the case of sexual abuse from an initial investigation which began in November 2015, after the victim confided in a social worker about the years of prolonged sexual abuse at the hands of her brother, who is 21 months older than her. The injured  party was initially fostered by Ferguson’s parents when she was 14 months old and was later adopted by them.

Details were revealed of an incident where the defendant aged 8 had engaged in “sexualised play” with the victim, then aged 6, and two other children of similar age who lived nearby.  Social Services had been made aware of it at the time, the judge told the court.

Graphic details of the abuse, which continued as the siblings reached their teens, were also revealed in court, with Ferguson telling his sister that “It was alright since they were not blood related.”

Ferguson’s previous convictions include motoring offences and one assault, but the court was told there had been no sexual offending and that he had been assessed as not posing a high risk of further offending.

The judge described a statement provided by the victim, his adopted sister, as a “very eloquent and impressive account of how this affected her as a teenager and young woman.”

Her account had spoken of  the “feelings of abandonment” she experienced and that the revelations of the abuse had caused “a schism in the family circle.”

The judge noted that the victim had completed a lengthy course of counselling and said now that the defendant had pleaded guilty, “she has been totally vindicated.”

Sentencing Ferguson to two years in jail, suspended for three years, the judge said that he had to take into account the difficulties of sentencing an adult for offences committed when they were a child, the passage of time and that the guilty plea had “saved the injured party from further ordeal.”

He made it clear that had Ferguson contested the charges,  he would be facing a three year jail sentence. The judge ordered that Ferguson be placed on the barred adults and vulnerable children list, disqualifying him from working with children.

Eleven other specimen charges of indecent assault from 1999 to 2007 were left on the books of the court.