May 2017

Homeless man who abused boy after parents allowed him to stay in their home jailed

A homeless man who abused a boy after his victim’s parents allowed him to sleep at their home was jailed today.

John Ramsey was handed a combination order for assaulting the boy in Belfast in the mid-80s.

Ramsey, whose address was given as a hostel on the city’s Verner Street, admitted the single charge – despite being so drunk at the time of the incident that he has no recollection of it.

The 56-year-old was handed a combination order of six months custody followed by a year on probation by the Belfast Recorder, Judge David McFarland.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Ramsey took advantage of the hospitality he was offered by the boy’s parents, who allowed him to sleep on their sofa.

The indecent assault occurred either in the summer of 1986 or 1987, when the boy was aged between nine and 10, and Ramsey was aged 27/28.

On the evening in question, Ramsey – who had been sleeping in the family’s East Belfast home – entered the boy’s bedroom after the youngster’s parents had gone to bed.

Ramsey then got into bed behind the boy, “wrapped himself” around him then indecently assaulted him while the boy was curled in the foetal position.

Ramsey then threatened the youngster, telling him if he told anyone what had happened, he would be taken away from his parents.

Ramsey’s offending emerged in 2005, and when he was questioned by police, he admitted staying with the boy’s family in the mid 80s and denied the offence.

The court heard that Ramsey has since admitted the charge, saying that while he has no memory of it, he believes what the injured party said.

Prosecuting barrister Philip Henry said the guilty plea was of “significant relief to the injured party, who will not have to give evidence or be cross-examined”.

Mr Henry also said Ramsey had similar offences on his criminal record from around the same time, but there has been no sexual offending since the mid 80s.

Defence barrister Christine Smith QC described Ramsey as a man with a borderline learning disability and a man who is effectively a homeless street drinker.

Ms Smith also spoke of difficulties within the victim’s family, adding Ramsey has since expressed empathy for the boy he indecently assaulted.

The barrister told Judge McFarland that her client had a long-standing history of alcohol misuse, and that he had a “chaotic lifestyle”.

Passing sentence, Judge McFarland spoke of the many difficulties faced by the victim – both in his childhood and up to the present day – telling Ramsey his actions contributed to these difficulties.

 

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