Derry man guilty of 84 sex offences against young children is jailed for 22 years

Derry man guilty of 84 sex offences against young children is jailed for 22 years

A MAN who committed sexual offences against young children being cared for by his childminder wife has been jailed for 22 years.

William Patterson, 69, from the Maghera area of Co. Derry, was convicted of 84 offences carried out at his family home over a 13-year period, starting in 2005.

The 19 victims were pre-school and primary school boys and girls, the youngest of whom was just three years of age.

Patterson had denied the charges against him, including engaging in sexual activity in the presence of children, indecent exposure, causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activity and sexual assault.

However, he was convicted of the charges in two trials last year and at Coleraine Crown Court on Friday he was handed the extended custodial sentence.

'Terrible abuse of trust'

Following the sentencing, Margaret Kinney of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) praised the bravery of the victims and their families.

"These offences represent a terrible abuse of trust by Patterson who preyed upon young, defenceless children being cared for in his home," she said.

"The victims were especially vulnerable due to their young ages and Patterson took advantage of this, committing a litany of offences against them.

"The PPS Serious Crime Unit worked closely with the PSNI Public Protection Branch from an early stage in their investigation to bring this offender to justice.

"Our prosecution team including our senior and junior counsel presented a strong case which was accepted by the jury after hearing the evidence.

"I want to commend the bravery of the victims and their families.

"They engaged with us throughout this long process including going through the ordeal of a trial, with several of his victims having to give evidence in court.

"While the impact of Patterson's actions will stay with his victims, I hope today's outcome brings them some comfort."

'Horrific crimes'

The PSNI also welcomed the sentence handed down to Patterson, one of the longest jail terms imposed in Northern Ireland for such offences.

"These are horrific crimes against the most vulnerable children," said Detective Chief Inspector Kerry Brennan.

"We welcome the sentencing and hope that it acts as a deterrent for any person who seeks to harm children in this way."

She added: "Our thoughts today are with the young victims that this man preyed over for many years and their families.

"No child should ever have to suffer this type of horrific abuse.

"We want to thank them for their bravery in coming forward and their families for working with detectives to bring this abuser to justice."

Patterson will also be placed on the Sex Offenders Register and be subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).