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Man who raped 9-year-old given 14-year jail sentence

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Convicted paedophile Richard Francis has been jailed and made subject to Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), banning contact with children on his eventual release.
While sentencing was initially listed for July, it would not go ahead as Judge Neil Rafferty QC requested additional information for consideration.
However it was to emerge at that hearing, Francis, (37), from Willoughby Place, Enniskillen, remained defiant in the face of the verdict, and furious with the victim.
He had been uncooperative and used foul language when interviewed by Probation Services for a pre-sentence report.
Maintaining his innocence he stated, “It’s b******t, I was found guilty. I’m here for her f*****g lies.”
His defence, while accepting imprisonment was inevitable, continued to assert willingness on the part of the victim.
In was claimed, “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. “
Francis sat in the dock with his head almost on his knees, whilst prosecution counsel described the case as “significant and extremely serious”.
It was pointed out, “Nine-years old is an extremely young age … There was a degree of planning. The defendant was an adult playing in children’s games. He selected and isolated the victim, taking her to a shed where they would not be interrupted.”
After a number of adjourned sentencing hearings, Francis appeared before Dungannon Crown Court sitting in Belfast last Friday.
Despite his reaction to the verdicts and remand in custody at the end of his trial, Francis remained impassive in the dock, mostly starting at the floor and showing no reaction as his sentence was passed.
Judge Neil Rafferty QC said a victim impact report showed there has been “severe psychological harm” as result of sexual assaults.
He noted the victim was distressed whilst the report was being compiled and is struggling to deal with what she had endured.
Judge Rafferty said aggravating factors in the case where the victim’s very young age, her vulnerability and the significant age difference between her and Francis.
He described the first incident as opportunistic’ but found “some degree of premeditation to develop the modus operandi” as offending continued.
Judge Rafferty said he had considered whether to impose a Custody Probation Order but decided “It would not be appropriate in this case as it is very difficult to identify what such an order would hope to achieve”.
Instead he handed down a combined total of 14 years imprisonment.
Francis was also made the subject of Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for a period of 15 years, which includes a ban on contact with any child aged under 16.
He was placed on the barred list of working with children and vulnerable adults and having been added to the Sex Offender Register immediately on conviction, will remain so until further order.

They each made reports to police they had been assaulted by a male in July 2016.

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