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Paedophile guilty of raping nine-year-old awaits fate

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SENTENCING of an Enniskillen man who raped a nine-year old girl, during abuse which began with games of hide-and-seek, has been delayed, while a judge awaits further information prior to issuing his decision.
It was a case which involved the attacker striking up text contact with his victim, years after the abuse ended. She challenged his actions, likening him to Jimmy Saville. His response was to claim he thought “she wanted it.”
Richard Francis (37) of Willoughby Place, twice raped and indecently assaulting the girl on various dates during 2006. Aged 26 at the time, he first took his opportunity to sexually abuse the child during a hide-and-seek game, later culminating in rape. He denied the allegations but was convicted after a trial at Dungannon Crown Court.
The court heard the incidents occurred when the girl was visiting a relative, who lived near to Francis. While she played with other children, he often joined in despite being 15 years her senior. During one game, she and Francis ended up in a shed, where he touched her chest, claiming this was normal and warning her to tell no-one.
When she again found herself in the shed with Francis, similar touching occurred but his behaviour escalated to rape.
On another occasion the victim was playing with Francis’ younger sister in their home. He told the victim to wait in the living room, where he closed the blinds. Then, to ensure they “would not be disturbed”, he locked his sister in her bedroom, before raping the victim.
The jury deliberated for around an hour before retuning unanimous guilty verdicts.
Francis was immediately remanded in custody pending sentencing.
The court heard Francis maintains his innocence and when interviewed for a pre-sentence report, he stated, “It’s b******t, I was found guilty. I’m here for her f*****g lies.”
Accepting Francis faces imprisonment, defence counsel said, “It may be he took the opportunity which presented itself, whilst essentially chaperoning his younger siblings. It may be the first opportunity was spontaneous. She was young and the offences were committed against her when she willingly went to the shed with him, and willingly went to his house with his younger sister. “
Judge Neil Rafferty QC decided to delay sentencing until more information is available to the court from Probation Services, who are to complete an addendum report on Francis.
He remains in custody and will appear again next month.


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