March 2017

Paedophile abused girl he was babysitting before fleeing to New Zealand for 13 years to escape justice

A paedophile who fled to New Zealand after repeatedly sexually abusing a vulnerable little girl has now been jailed

Alan MacDonald, now aged 65, began grooming his victim when she was just seven years old, and went on to sexually assault her multiple times.

When he was caught he denied any wrongdoing before skipping bail and fleeing the country two weeks before his trial.

He changed his name and escaped justice for 13 years before being extradited back to the UK and eventually admitting his crimes.

Today he was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison at Salisbury Crown Court.

MacDonald, who used to be known as Alan Keenan, befriended the victim when she moved into a refuge with her mother in the late 1990s, and later to a Christian care hostel in Salisbury where he lived on the upper floor.

When they moved to another part of the city, he maintained a friendship with the family and visited them, taking the victim out on occasional trips.

He sent her a Valentine’s card that year in which he called her “really hot”. She was seven at the time.

The family moved again to another location in Salisbury, and Keenan continued to visit them, babysitting her when the girl’s mother was working late. The court heard he would sometimes stay the night on a spare bed in the girl’s room.

MacDonald began talking to the girl about sex when she was eight and began abusing her when she was nine.

One night when he was babysitting at her home, he massaged her before touching her sexually, above her clothing, the court heard.

On later occasions he touched her “more intimately”, putting his hands down her pyjama shorts while she watched TV.

When she asked him to put up a tent for her to play in he told her “only if I can touch you down below,” the court heard.

He would invite her to get into the bath or shower with him, to look at him naked, tried to make her touch him, invited her to play “doctors and nurses”, performed sex acts in front of her and asked her to perform sex acts upon him.

In a police interview, MacDonald, previosly of Middle Street, Harnham, said it: “It was all innocent messing around that had been horribly misconstrued.”

A trial date was set and the victim, then aged 11, was prepared to give evidence.

But MacDonald failed to attend and fled to New Zealand where he changed his name, obtained a new passport, and was even able to return to the UK to visit his mother, undetected by the authorities.

After a series of failed extradition attempts, MacDonald was eventually brought back to the UK in November 2016.

In a statement, the victim, now a mother-of-four, said: “Up until my seventh birthday I was a happy, content little girl with no worries, but that all ended when Mr Keenan entered my life.

“He made me feel I could trust him, and he was my best friend in the world and he was there to care and protect me.

“Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.”

She said she now recognised the real reason he had befriended her mother was to gain the family’s trust so he could sexually abuse her.

“I used to think he was the best person I had ever met. I now realise this is called grooming.”

She said she was scared to tell anyone, because he said no one would believe her and he was doing it because he loved her.

“Normal children my age didn’t know about the things he had subjected me to. I felt dirty and like I was bad.”

She added: “I can’t tell you how many times I awoke to find Mr Keenan with his hand between my legs.

“It was a sick thrill for him.”

In her statement she said she was 12 when she first tried to kill herself.

She has since suffered mental health problems, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder, and still suffers flashbacks and “horrific nightmares”.

“It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I released how he had torn my childhood right out from under my feet,” she said.

Representing MacDonald, Giles Nelson said: “There’s very little I can say by way of mitigation at all in this case.”

Mr Nelson said MacDonald must get some credit for his eventual guilty plea, avoiding the need for a trial.

And he said his client accepted his behaviour had been “manipulative, controlling and thoroughly wrong”.

“It’s extremely hard to understand why he did what he did,” Mr Nelson said, adding that MacDonald had “run away” because he feared being sent to prison.

Sentencing him to a total of six years for two counts of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child, plus six months for failing to surrender to the court, Judge Keith Cutler described MacDonald’s behaviour as “quite clearly disgusting” and said he had groomed the victim “as a sexual object of your own perverted lust.”

He said: “The story begins with a mother who was seeking refuge for her and her daughter back in the 1990s.

“It goes through an inappropriate and perverted relationship which developed over a period of time, and then it ends with you fleeing justice and going off to New Zealand for 13 years.

“It must be a great relief to all concerned that this all ends now and today.”

MacDonald must sign the sex offenders register and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for life.

Speaking to the Journal today, the victim said she was happy with the sentence, which was longer than she had expected.

She said she could now “close the chapter” in her life.

Her mother said: “It’s closure for her. She can move on and have a happy life and not let him ruin any more of it.”