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Child rapist could have been stopped

Jackie Johnston
Jackie Johnston

Predatory paedophile Jackie Greer Johnston could have been stopped in his tracks after he gave an 11 year girl a sexually transmitted infection over 20 years ago.

The forner LVF hard man, sentenced last week for eight sexual offences, had sold the little girl for sex to another man in the grounds of a north Down school, and they were caught by a staff member who reported it.

Tests showed that Johnston and the girl had the same STI, and police tried to have him prosecuted for child abuse.

But the case was knocked back by prosecutors, allowing Johnston to continue preying on young girls for another decade. He was still committing rape in 2005.

The loyalist money lender also took his revenge on the 11 year old girl because she had revealed what he'd done to her.

His victim's extended family were targeted by Johnston and his thugs, who vandalised cars and smashed windows of their homes.

Johnston was given a five year sentence last week for eight sex offences against two women. In April the dangerous paedophile had  pleaded guilty to two charges of gross indecency, two of unlawful carnal knowledge and four of indecent assault, all committed between 1987 and 1994.

He is already serving a 16 year sentence for a campaign of abuse against one young woman, which started with rape when she was just 10 and continued into her twenties.

In February the 47 year old was found guilty of a 2002 rape and given a further five years.

The two women involved in the latest case have both spoken to Sunday World about their ordeal at Johnston's hands, which continues to affect their lives. Their identities are protected.

Beth, now 38, attempted suicide at 13, ran away from home and eventually fled Northern Ireland for a new life in England.

Johnston had wormed his way into her trust and would regularly turn up at a youth club she attended in the Queen's Hall in Holywood to abuse her. He also forced her into unprotected sex, on one occasion in a coal shed.

"He would take me up on the stage in the hall behind the curtain and make me perform oral sex on him," she says.

"At about 11 he was organising for me to have sex with other people. I got caught having sex with this guy he had organised when he turned up at a weekend event at my school and a member of staff caught us.

"That was how the police got involved and the medical examination showed Johnston and I both had the same STI.

"The police tried to get him prosecuted but the DPP wouldn't take it up, and then my parents tried to take a private prosecution, but they couldn't get the police files. My parents tried so hard."

Even as a child Beth knew that the LVF man was feared in Holywood, and when he threatened her she took it seriously. 

"He had always said if I told anyone he would harm my family. He was in the LVF, everyone was scared of him.

"I held back some information at 11 because of the threat of reprisals, and they happened anyway. He slashed tyres on cars, he broke windows."

Beth welcomed the latest prosecution but says she doesn't believe Johnston's apology to his victims.

"I'm not saying he ruined my life but he affected it. I still shower a couple of times a day. I have to feel clean.

"In court they said he was apologetic but that was only for the court."

Clare, whose statement led to Johnston's guilty plea to the four indecent assault charges, says his attacks on her led to suicide attempts, mental health issues and the breakdown of her marriage.

The predator's first indecent assault on her took place in Queen's Hall in Holywood when he mistook her for Beth.

"It was in the dark behind the curtain and I asked him what he was doing and he said he thought I was her. That was the first time he touched me. From the age of eight I knew what he was doing to her."

Johnston continued to target Clare, plying her with drugs and then forcing her to perform sex acts on him.

"He said if I told my parents he'd tell them I was taking drugs," says Clare, 38.

She's relieved that Johnston's guilty pleas spared her the ordeal of a trial, but believes he did it to avoid a longer sentence.

Clare also hoped the legal process would be a new beginning for her.

"I thought this would be the start of the rest of my life but some days I'm up and some days I'm down. My mum says it's like grieving. I've spent so many years feeling guilty and vulnerable.

"I was glad I didn't have to go through a trial. Maybe he pleaded guilty for us, maybe he did it for himself," she says.