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perv jailed Filthy farmer who abused teenage girl half his age sentenced to three years' jail

Officers seized sex toys, BDSM restraints and three used contraceptives which when forensically tested, still had the DNA of the schoolgirl on them

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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

A Co. Antrim pervert who detailed in diaries his sexual exploits with a teenage girl half his age was handed a three-year sentence today.

Ordering Andrew McRoberts to spend 18 months in jail and the same under supervised licence conditions, Judge Patrick Lynch QC told the 32-year-old he had known all along “that what he was doing was wrong” and that it “had to be kept secret.”

“He knew the risks and ultimately, he has come to pay for those risks,” said the Craigavon Crown Court judge.

At an earlier hearing McRoberts, from the Lower Ballinderry Road, Ballinderry, had entered guilty pleas to a total of eight sex offences, all committed on various dates between 4 April 2018 and 30 July 2019, including six of sexual activity with a child, sexual communication with a child and possessing an indecent image of a child.

The court heard how the 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 who was just 15-years-old at the time.

Her parents examined her mobile phone while she slept and uncovered “extremely sexual” messages on it from someone called Andrew, who transpired to be the defendant, and also that they had been exchanging sexually explicit images of each other.

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PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST
Andrew McRoberts at Craigavon Court on Wednesday.

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST Andrew McRoberts at Craigavon Court on Wednesday.

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST Andrew McRoberts at Craigavon Court on Wednesday.

When police raided McRoberts’ home the following day, officers seized sex toys, BDSM restraints and three used contraceptives which when forensically tested, still had the DNA of the schoolgirl on them.

While McRoberts was arrested and taken into police custody for questioning, his teenage victim underwent an Achieving Best Evidence video interview with specially trained child abuse detectives where 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 which continued for about 16 months and according to the teenage victim, they had sex “on 20-30 occasions.”

Prosecuting counsel Ian Tannahill outlined how the teenager spoke throughout the interview “as being in a relationship, a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship,” adding that in reality, “we know of course that it was a series of criminal acts by this man.”

The teenage 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.

According to the diaries and her police interview the pair first had sex on 9 July 2018 when the victim was 14-years-old, adding that McRoberts had detailed dates and times when they met “and the activity that went on,” even when the schoolgirl “had her first sip of Buckfast.”

“The diaries are distasteful and course,” he told the court, submitting that “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.”

Defence counsel Peter Coiley conceded that throughout the offending, McRoberts “knew what he was doing was wrong,” that his crimes are “deplorable....and despite knowing that he continued the relationship.”

He said McRoberts had asked him specifically to tell the victim and her family: “I am deeply sorry that this has happened. If I could wind back time I would never have become involved and can only apologise for my actions.”

Jailing McRoberts today, the judge said despite defence submissions the victim was not corrupted by the defendant’s actions, “I cannot accept that.”

“She is a victim and one cannot say there is no corruption - there was a series of sexual activities and some very explicit activities between them,” said Judge Lynch.

He told McRoberts that while he would get credit for pleading guilty, “he had little option but to plead guilty as he was convicted out of his own mouth” given his written diary entries which would have been “strong corroborative evidence” had he decided to take the case to trial.

Those pleas, along with McRoberts’ clear record were mitigating factors but aggravating factors included the age disparity and the fact that “there is no indication that he would have stopped” had the offences not been discovered.

In addition to the jail sentence, McRoberts was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for the rest of his life and also handed a seven year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

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