Monday 19 March 2018

Jail for youth worker who abused teen

Richard Blackburn: Has left his abuse victim in fear. North West Newspix
Richard Blackburn: Has left his abuse victim in fear. North West Newspix

Greg Harkin

A youth club worker at an evangelical church who indecently assaulted a teenage girl 'every day' has been jailed for two years.

Richard Blackburn (57), a Land Rover mechanic from Carnone, Raphoe, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty to three specimen charges relating to a series of sexual assaults on the girl between 2000 and 2002.

Most of the attacks took place in the back of a converted Mercedes van which he used to take children to and from a youth club in Raphoe run by the Congregational Church.

The victim, who is now aged 29, wrote to the court from abroad, where she now lives, to ask the court to allow her attacker to be named in the media.

In her powerful victim impact statement, read to the court by investigating officer Det Sgt Ciaran Brolly, she told how she was now afraid to return home to Ireland for fear of meeting Blackburn.

Her life, she said, had been destroyed and simple things for most people like going to the shop were now nerve-racking experiences.

"It is like my teenage years didn't exist at all. What happened to me was life-altering, dark and very scary. Richard Blackburn was a trusted family friend.

"He knew me from birth and therefore he knew my age. I was abused daily. For years, he convinced me it was all my fault but I now know it wasn't my fault.

"When I go home to Ireland I am afraid to meet him in the street. I wanted to spend time there when my granny was unwell and she died recently. I didn't get to spend that special time with her."

The victim, now a school teacher, said she doesn't sleep at night and constantly feels nervous.

Judge John O'Hagan said Blackburn had breached the trust of an impressionable young girl in her formative years.

Blackburn, said the judge, had put his victim through an "absolutely traumatic" experience which had left deep scars on her life.

He sentenced Blackburn to three two-year prison sentences to run concurrently, with the last year suspended.

Irish Independent

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