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Victim of LVF rapist Jackie Greer Johnston blasts light sentence after latest conviction

"What is the incentive for victims to come forward?"
Jackie Greer Johnston

Jackie Greer Johnston

Roisin Gorman

A victim of LVF paedophile Jackie Greer Johnston says his lenient sentence for his latest conviction will discourage other women from coming forward.

The Holywood money lender, already serving lengthy jail terms for offences against three women, was convicted again recently.

But he was given just three years and four months, half of which will be served on licence, for four counts of indecent assault in a year-long campaign which started when his victim was just 14.

Johnston was a well-known loyalist hardman in the Co Down town who ruled through fear. He got his claws into the local community as a money lender and used his LVF connections as a cover for a litany of sex crimes against young women.

He was notorious in Holywood as a rapist long before he was first jailed in 2014, and a former victim has claimed he's been protected as an informant.

She says his victims are being badly let down and the latest sentence will do nothing to encourage more women to come forward.

The woman, now 36, previously secured a rape conviction against Johnston, which was overturned on appeal on the basis of the trial judge's closing remarks to the jury.

Johnston denied the charge and she spent five days in the witness box in 2017 detailing how he had raped her at his Holywood home when she was just 16.

A few months later he was convicted of eight further offences against another two women and given five years.

At the time of those trials he was already serving a 16-year jail sentence for six sexual offences against one victim, which started with rape when she was ten, and continued into her twenties.

By the time she came forward he had already been exiled by his paramilitary pals to England.

"I feel so sorry for the last woman who went to the police about him," says the 36-year-old.

"He abused her for a year and all he got was less than two years added on to his sentence.

"What is the incentive for victims to come forward?

"If I could go back and speak to myself before I went to the police about him, I would probably say don't do it.

"I know I had PTSD after what he did to me and going through the trial was worse. I know the jury believed me and then I had my guilty verdict taken away from me."

At his latest trial Johnston (51) initially denied his attacks on the young woman before admitting four counts of indecent assault against her between June 1999 and June 2001.

She had been sent to his flat to make payments on a debt after a relative borrowed money to buy furniture. The young woman went to the police in 2017.

A victim impact statement described the harrowing effect the assaults had on her, and the only mitigating factor was that Johnston eventually pleaded guilty.

"I have no doubt he did that on legal advice. If he'd put her through a trial and been found guilty, he would have got five years, instead of less than two years added to his prison sentence," says the 36-year-old.

"During my case I was told that Johnston was a police informer. A person who knew the case well said he was working with the police, although at that stage he hadn't been operating as a paramilitary for 15 years - so what information did he have?

"If he continues to be protected when he leaves prison he will offend again.

"And if he could give an 11-year-old girl an STI and get away with it what does that tell you."

Johnston gave a sexually transmitted infection to one of the 2017 complainants over 20 years ago, when she was just 11. He was caught in the act of selling her for sex to another man in the grounds of a Co Down school and arrested by police, but prosecutors didn't take the case any further.

He and his LVF henchmen then attacked the homes and cars of his young victim's extended family in a campaign of intimidation.

"He was notorious in Holywood. I spoke to someone very recently whose wife he had tried to rape.

Jackie Greer Johnston with his LVF cohorts

Jackie Greer Johnston with his LVF cohorts

"Everyone knew there were young girls in their school uniforms going into his house, but he got away with it."

She says the legal process is also daunting for anyone who reports a sex crime.

The mum of one was still in a raw emotional state in 2017 when she had to decide whether to push for another trial against Johnston, following his successful appeal.

"It was two days after he got his appeal and I said at the time I couldn't imagine doing it all again, so I said no.

"A week later I regretted it. I realised I had given so much to getting him into court and I didn't want him laughing all the way back to Maghaberry, so I rang the office and explained I had been in a very emotional state and wanted another trial.

"They said the decision had been made and I couldn't go any further.

"I felt like no one had taken account of how fragile I was or given me space to think.

"I just felt so badly let down by the whole process."

She was also gutted that Johnston was able to separate her trial in February 2017, from his second trial in April that year. He had initially been slated to face all three victims together, but his defence team successfully argued that her rape case should be tried separately.

"If he had faced three victims at once he would have got more than five years."

She says becoming a mother has changed her life and helped her recovery, but it's also brought home the horror of Johnston's multiple sex crimes.

"My baby saved me.

"I'm a mother now to a little girl and I look at her and think, 'imagine if that happened to her'.

"People like him never change. He will never be rehabilitated. He will always be a danger to women," she says.

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