Gerry Adams’ brother jailed for 16 years for raping his own daughter when she was a child
- Liam Adams, 58, was convicted of attacking his child over six years
- Gerry Adams has refused to explain why he did not tell police about abuse
- First trial, which collapsed, heard Mr Adams confronted his brother in 1987
- Mr Adams also revealed his brother later confessed to him in 2000
- Allegations first made public when she took part in documentary in 2009
The paedophile brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was told he had committed the greatest breach of trust imaginable as he was jailed for 16 years for raping his daughter.
Liam Adams, 58, from west Belfast, showed no visible sign of remorse as a judge passed sentence in Belfast Crown Court, shaking his head occasionally during the hearing and then smiling and laughing as he was led from the dock.
As his crimes were committed at a time when offenders in Northern Ireland were still eligible for 50 per cent remission on jail terms – a policy that has since been reformed – Adams is set to be released after spending eight years behind bars.
The former youth worker was found guilty last month of a string of vile sexual assaults on his child Aine Dahlstrom when she was aged between four and nine in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The 40-year-old, who has waived her right to anonymity, wiped tears from her eyes as she watched on from the public gallery of court 14 as her father found out the length of the jail term awaiting him.
Handing down the sentence, which comprised 16 years in custody and a further two years on probation, Judge Corinne Philpott said Adams’s continued refusal to admit his guilt was still denying his daughter the closure she sought.
‘It has been clear throughout that Mrs Dahlstrom simply wanted an acknowledgement from her father that what he had done to her during her childhood was wrong,’ she said.
‘He has always denied her this acknowledgement and continues to do so.
‘However she now at least knows that the jury must have found her evidence compelling as they believed her.’
The judge added: ‘This case involved the greatest breach of trust imaginable where a father instead of caring for and protecting his daughter himself abused her.’
Liam Adams, from Bernagh Drive, was found guilty of 10 offences against his daughter – three counts of rape, four of indecent assault and three of gross indecency.
The abuse was committed over a five-year period between 1977 and 1981.
Bespectacled Adams, dressed in brown jacket, jeans and blue checked shirt, supported himself with a walking stick as he stood to hear his sentence.
His convictions have heaped pressure on his high-profile older brother to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.
During a first trial earlier this year, which collapsed, the Sinn Fein leader, now a public representative in the Irish Republic, claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him while the pair were walking in the rain.
The former west Belfast MP faced criticism for not informing police about the alleged confession for another nine years.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers recommended the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) take no case against the Sinn Fein veteran.
Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman is now investigating if detectives properly examined whether Gerry Adams covered up the crimes and the PSNI has pledged to review the case. Northern Ireland’s attorney general John Larkin is examining the role of prosecutors.
Gerry Adams, who was not in court today, instead attending the funeral of well known priest Alec Reid in west Belfast, has insisted he committed no offence and accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.
Ahead of passing sentence, Judge Philpott outlined details of his brother’s crimes.
Three of the convictions relate to an incident in May 1978 when he raped and further sexually abused his daughter when her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother.
The judge said Adams would warn his daughter that if she told on him he would be sent to jail.
‘Mrs Dahlstrom told the court in the evidence that even as a young child she had an understanding that what was happening was wrong but that she did not understand why her father was doing it to her,’ she said.
Ms Philpott said he committed the abuse when he was angry, sometimes drunk and sometimes sober.
‘She remembers the smell of his breath when he had taken drink and he was pressing down on her chest,’ the judge told the court.
Mrs Dahlstrom first brought the matter to police in 1987. This was in the midst of the Northern Ireland Troubles and a time when many people in republican communities distrusted and refused to co-operate with the security forces.
She did not pursue the matter at that stage, claiming that detectives were more interested to hear information about her famous uncle than about the allegations she was levelling against her father.
It would not be for another 20 years before she went to police again, after finding out that her father was working in a west Belfast youth club that her children attended.
As well as spending two years on probation at the end of his prison sentence, Adams will be placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely and will be barred from working with children.
Among the aggravating factors the judge took into account when passing sentence were the age of the victim, the horrific nature of the crimes, and the continuing impact on Mrs Dahlstrom.
She said the victim had described how the abuse impacted on her education, affecting her concentration and motivation in the classroom, while in later life she has found herself being overprotective when it came to her own children. Ms Philpott said the trial had also taken its toll on Mrs Dahlstrom and recalled how her evidence had to be delayed at one stage after she developed chest pains.
Another aggravating factor was the major breach of trust committed, the judge said.
Ms Philpott added: ‘The evidence has established in the view of this court that he used this child for his own sexual gratification, whenever he had the opportunity when her mother was not present in the house.’
She said the only mitigating factors were his poor health – he suffers from both inflammation of the arteries (temporal arteritis) and osteoarthritis, a lack of significant previous criminal record, and the fact that no evidence of further sexual offending since 1981 had emerged.
Mrs Dahlstrom did not make a public comment on the sentence as she left the court.
TIMELINE: AINE ADAMS’ BATTLE TO HAVE HER ABUSER FATHER JAILED
1977 – Aine Adams, aged four, is indecently assaulted by her father Liam Adams at her home in Westrock Drive, west Belfast.
May 1978 – Aine Adams recalls being raped for the first time while her mother is in hospital giving birth to her younger brother, Conor.
December 1981 – Liam Adams splits from first wife Sarah.
June 1983 – Gerry Adams elected as West Belfast MP and becomes president of Sinn Fein.
December 1986 – Aine Adams, aged 13, reveals in a letter to her mother that she was repeatedly raped by her father Liam Adams from the age of four.
January 1987 – Aine Adams and her mother report catalogue of child sex abuse to detectives at Grosvenor Road RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) station.
February 1987 – Aine Adams and her mother retract statements about abuse over attempts to exploit them for intelligence gathering. A detective tells Aine Adams the file will be retained on record.
March 1987 – Gerry Adams confronts his brother Liam at a house in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and threatens to hit him with a hammer. Gerry Adams is driven to Donegal by his cousin, Kevin Hannaway. Aine Adams and her mother are also present.
1991 – Aine Adams moves to Scotland.
1997 – Gerry Adams is pictured smiling with his brother during an election canvass in Dundalk, Co Louth. Liam Adams is later expelled from Sinn Fein after his brother Gerry learns of his intention to stand as an election candidate for Co Louth. He continues to carry out work for the party.
December 1999 – While Christmas shopping, Aine Adams tells her younger sister Sinead she was sexually abused as a child.
December 2002 – Liam Adams confesses abuse against Aine when confronted by Sinead, during a meeting in Twinbrook.
January 2006 – Aine Adams returns to Belfast and goes to PSNI to have case re-opened against her father.
November 2007 – Liam Adams is arrested by the PSNI and questioned about child sex abuse allegations. He denies all allegations.
November 2008 – Liam Adams fails to turn up at court in Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges. He fled to the Republic over fears he would not receive a fair trial.
December 2009 – Aine Adams waives her right to anonymity and goes public about the abuse in a television documentary. Gerry Adams urges Liam to hand himself in.
March 2010 – Liam Adams is arrested at a Dublin police station, under a European arrest warrant which was issued by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
October 2011 – Liam Adams loses fight against extradition
April 2013 – First trial against Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court. Jury of six men and six women is sworn in.
April 22, 2013 – Gerry Adams takes the stand as a prosecution witness and denies claims he did not tell the authorities about his brother sooner because he was trying to save his political skin.
April 25, 2013 – Trial collapses because of legal issues and jury is discharged. Judge Corrine Philpott orders that a new trial be held in the autumn.
October 1, 2013 – Jury of nine men and three women take about four hours to return guilty verdicts in all 10 charges with a majority of 11 to one. Liam Adams is remanded in custody.
November 27, 2013 – Liam Adams is jailed for 16 years.