A well-known former photographer from Lurgan has been jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty to six counts of indecent assault on a girl.
Jim McGuinness from River Glade Manor admitted six specimen counts of indecently assaulting a young girl around 50 years ago.
McGuinness, now aged 76, was on crutches as he walked from the dock at Craigavon Crown Court to the cells to start serving his sentence this morning.
He is pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault on the same female on dates between April 30, 1962, and June 10, 1965. He was sentenced to 15 months on each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently.
He was also ordered not to have contact with children for five years and must pay a £25 Offenders Levy.
A prosecution barrister told Craigavon Crown Court that McGuinness had appeared on June 4 this year on ten charges dating from 1962 to 1965 and he pleaded not guilty.
The case was listed again for June 26 and McGuinness pleaded guilty to six of the ten charges.
Judge Patrick Lynch, prior to sentencing the accused, described the offences as ‘grave’ and pointed to the ‘persistent effect’ these offences had on the injured party including throughout her marriage. The judge said aggravating features included the repeated nature of the offences, the young age of the injured party and the effect it had on her.
The judge accepted that the defendant had publically accepted responsibility and constitutes no risk to society at this time and that he had his own health problems.
At a previous hearing last Friday, a barrister told the court that McGuinness had appeared before Craigavon Court in May 2014 regarding allegations of indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl. The injured party had read reports about this case and subsequently decided to go to the police about indecent assaults she had suffered as a girl in the 1960s.
The court heard the injured party was a friend of the defendant’s niece as a child and had played with her in the Weaver’s Row area of Lurgan.
There was waste ground at the back of Weaver’s Row and that is where most of the assaults took place.
The barrister said that the injured party remembers that it was summer time but before school was over and she was still wearing her school uniform when the first incident happened.
He pushed her against a wall and put his hand down her pants, indecently assaulting her. She had cried for him to stop.
The court heard that on other occasions he had pushed her to the ground and indecently assaulted her.
This continued for two to three years.
He moved on to touching her breasts through her clothes. As well as repeatedly touching himself, he would try to get her to touch him, the court heard.
On one occasion she was indecently assaulted in an outside toilet.
The prosecution barrister said the injured party had moved home when she was ten years old. She had told her family that she was abused but had not named her abuser until she read about him in the paper.
“He claims to have no memory of the complainant,” the prosecutor said.
McGuinness’ defence barrister Joel Lindsay said his client is a man with four children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren and there had been no complaints. He had brought them up as a hard working man. “This has come as a shock to his family,” he said. “This has taken place before the birth of his first child.”
“It has been difficult for his family. They have stood by him as he has been a good father and grandfather.”
The defence barrister said the defendant’s health had suffered. He had a hip replacement and suffers memory problems. Also he revealed he was the sole carer for his wife who also has memory issues. “At aged 76 he can instruct but he has no memory,” he said.
“In 50 years he has no criminal record and is well thought of by friends and colleagues.
“This happened so long ago these houses do not exist anymore. The buildings have disappeared and a number of important people have died since then,” he said.
“We are dealing with a man who is a low risk of re-offending and has health issues,” said the defence barrister who added that they had no wish to brush these matters under the carpet.
“He is sorry for his actions,” he said.