May 2018

Child rapist jailed for 21 years

A child rapist has been jailed for 21 years in his absence after claiming to be ill during a sentencing hearing.

Alexander Finnigan, who subjected two girls to sickening sex attacks, could be heard coughing, as if struggling to breathe, as vile details of his crimes were read out at Durham Crown Court.

Judge Christopher Prince asked if he would like a break and, during a short adjournment, a nurse was called to the video room at HMP Durham where he was being held.

It is understood the 55-year-old, from Stanley, claimed to be suffering from angina, but the judge decided to go ahead with the sentencing on Friday afternoon.

The court was told Finnigan would sometimes ply the youngsters with alcohol before subjecting them to depraved sexual abuse over a period of several years.

Judge Prince said: “Alcohol would be purchased and made available.

“You would buy alcopops, sweet spirit-based drinks which can be easily consumed and are tempting to young people.”

After a seven day trial in April, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on 12 of the 13 charges he faced.

The allegations were brought by two women who were both under 16, at the time the offences were said to have taken place.

The judge said: “This was a prolonged period of offending and the defendants were vulnerable.

“There was a considerable degree of planning, the defendant used alcohol and drugs and there was an abuse of trust.”

Finnigan, of Lenin Street, had denied all 13 counts, two each of rape and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, plus nine of either indecent or sexual assault.

Judge Prince said: “At trial you accused the complainants of fabricating lies against you.

“They did not lie.

“You did, and the jury found that to be the case.”

As well as the 21 year prison sentence, Finnigan will be the subject of a lifetime sexual harm prevention order and have to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

The judge said: “It has been extremely traumatic for the victims and there are continuing and ongoing effects, understandably. The effect has been profound.”

April 2018

Stanley man convicted of sex offences against underage girls

A convicted sex offender has been warned to expect a lengthy term behind bars after a jury found favour with the accounts of his two female accusers.

Alexander Finnigan is experiencing his first taste of custody following unanimous guilty verdicts returned on 12 of the 13 charges he faced during a seven-day trial at Durham Crown Court.

The allegations were brought by two women who were both under 16, at the time the offences were said to have taken place.

Finnigan, of Lenin Street, Stanley, first appeared at the court facing the 13-count indictment on the day after his 55th birthday, last June.

The charges were not put to him at that hearing, amid defence suggestions there may be a fitness to plead issue.

But at the start of his scheduled trial, last week, the defendant, who has no previous convictions, denied all 13 counts, two each of rape and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, plus nine of either indecent or sexual assault.

He was unable to offer an explanation why the women may have raised the allegations in cross-examination by prosecuting barrister Paul Reid, during the trial.

Following the guilty verdicts to all but one of the rape allegations, Judge Christopher Prince was asked by defence counsel Julie Clemitson to allow the defendant bail prior to the sentencing hearing later this month, “as a mercy” due to health issues suffered by both Finnigan and his wife.

But, warning him that he is likely to be facing a substantial sentence, Judge Prince refused, telling Finnigan: “I’m not willing to do so. You have showed no remorse and made these young people out, publicly, to be liars.”

He added that there were adequate health-care facilities available to him in prison.

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