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Guilty plea Filthy farmer who abused teenage girl half his age says he’s “prepared for prison”

When police raided the home of McRoberts, they seized sex toys, BDSM restraints, explicit images of the victim and three used condoms which still had the DNA of the girl on them.

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Andrew McRoberts at work in Co. Antrim this week

Andrew McRoberts at work in Co. Antrim this week

The Sunday World confronted McRoberts about his sordid crimes

The Sunday World confronted McRoberts about his sordid crimes

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Andrew McRoberts at work in Co. Antrim this week

A filthy farmer who abused a teenage girl half his age says he's "prepared for prison" when he's sentenced this week.

Andrew McRoberts (32) pleaded guilty last week to a total of eight serious sex offences, including sexual activity with a child who was just 14 at the time the abuse began.

But the self-confessed child abuser - who kept a disgusting diary of his twisted deeds as well as used condoms - gave an extraordinary interview from his doorstep to the Sunday World.

He told us: "I'm no paedo, I'm no risk, I'm not a monster. I was blinded by what I thought was love, I f***ed up and I'm rightfully going to be punished."

His teenage victim believed they were a couple in a full-blown relationship, unaware that in truth the 32-year-old was repeatedly committing illegal sex acts over a 16-month period.

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The Sunday World confronted McRoberts about his sordid crimes

The Sunday World confronted McRoberts about his sordid crimes

The Sunday World confronted McRoberts about his sordid crimes

Disturbingly, Craigavon Crown Court heard how McRoberts, from Ballinderry, Co Antrim, groomed and abused the girl and kept diaries of their illegal sexual activities, which included spanking.

And when police raided the home of McRoberts, they seized sex toys, BDSM restraints, explicit images of the victim and three used condoms which still had the DNA of the girl on them.

Prosecuting counsel Ian Tannahill said given those shocking discoveries, along with the nature of the case and despite the fact that sex toys are entirely legal to own, the PPS and police were seeking a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans McRoberts from having any sex toy.

He revealed, however, that the 32-year-old had written to the prosecution himself "seeking the return of these items".

McRoberts is almost certainly going to prison when he's sentenced later this week but the Sunday World confronted him at his home where he runs an agricultural contract service.

He calmly told us he took "full responsibility" for what had happened and was "very sorry".

"I deeply regret what I have done and if I could turn back the clock I wouldn't have done it," McRoberts told us.

"I knew the law and I knew she was underage but I was blinded because I thought I was in love. We talked about being open about the relationship but I didn't come clean about it.

"It's only now talking to probation that I understand what I did was terribly wrong and might have caused her damage and affected her view on future relationships and I'm truly sorry for that.

"I take full responsibility for it all. It was all my fault and I wouldn't want anything bad to be said about her or her family."

Despite this, McRoberts said he never forced his teenage victim into having sex.

"She had a very mature head and I was blinded, even though I knew her age and I knew legally it was wrong," he said.

"We met at a vintage tractor rally and I had just come out of a 10-year relationship. My ex hated the work I did but with this girl it was completely different.

"I wanted to get the relationship out in the open but she was worried about her parents not approving - which turned out to be correct.

"I knew nothing about them finding out until the police arrived at my door one day. I was totally shocked. They raided the whole house.

"I'm just so sorry to the people in my family who I have let down. The hurt I've caused them is the hardest thing. I didn't consider them but if I could take it all back, I would."

McRoberts entered guilty pleas to eight sex offences, all committed on various dates between April 4, 2018 and July 30, 2019, including six of sexual activity with a child, sexual communication with a child and possessing an indecent image of a child.

The court was told offences came to light in August 2019 when the victim's parents were told by family friends of their suspicions regarding McRoberts and their daughter.

While the schoolgirl slept, her mum and dad examined her phone and uncovered "extremely sexual" messages on it from someone called Andrew, who it transpired was the defendant.

When his home was searched a "large number of items were seized", including his diaries, sex toys and used contraceptives and officers also found evidence "there had been explicit photos shared between them".

McRoberts was arrested and taken into police custody for questioning while his teenage victim underwent an 'Achieving Best Evidence' video interview with strained child-abuse detectives.

She outlined how she met McRoberts at a vintage tractor rally and after a week of exchanging messages, "he had said that he liked her," even though she was only 14 at the time. That was the start of their sexual relationship and the abuse is said to have continued for about 16 months during which time, according to the teenage victim, they had sex "on 20-30 occasions".

"She spoke throughout [the interview] as being in a relationship, a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship," said the lawyer, who added that in reality "we know of course that it was a series of criminal acts by this".

The schoolgirl told police "she sent pictures of her private parts to him... of her own freewill" and that he would send her sexually explicit images of himself as well.

McRoberts says he's concerned he could lose his business if he's sent to prison for a long time

"I f***ed up and I'm rightfully going to be punished," he said.

"I'm going to jail, I'm prepared for that. I'm worried about being labelled as a paedo, I'm no paedo, I don't see myself as a risk to others.

"I don't have any previous convictions and I'm more than happy to work with probation and will do any therapy required.

"I'm worried if I go to prison for a very long time I'll lose my business. I have staff members and customers relying on me.

"I've rang round my customers and explained the case and most have agreed to continue to give me business.

"If I go to jail I'd like to do therapy work and other courses. I have two degrees in mechanical engineering and a masters."

Offending

The prosecuting barrister told the court: "The diaries are distasteful and coarse. We make the proposition that what you see there is a diary of how a child is groomed and then more serious offending over the course of that year, by the defendant, and used by him in an ascending list of events and activities."

He said that despite defence contentions that the victim was a willing participant, "we say that is of no benefit to the defendant... because was she not willing, then he would have been charged with other, different offences, specifically rape."

Legislation concerning the age of consent "is there to protect children from their own mistakes... the responsibility falls on the adult," he added.

Defence counsel Peter Coiley admitted that McRoberts "knew what he was doing was wrong" and that his crimes were "deplorable... and despite knowing that he continued the relationship."

"He would be at pains to point out that it's not the case that the diary entries were in anyway a catalogue of his offences or a souvenir of the abuse," said Mr Coiley.

The lawyer said McRoberts has lost his reputation "and good family name" and faces losing the family business which has been trading for over 50 years.

McRoberts will be sentenced this week.

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