Liam Adams ‘will not pose risk to public after release,’ lawyer argues ahead of sentencing
The paedophile brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams should not be subject to lengthy sex offender supervision measures on his eventual release from prison as he does not pose a serious risk to the public, his lawyer has urged.
Belfast Crown Court today heard final legal submissions on the case of Liam Adams before judge Corinne Philpott adjourned to commence her sentencing deliberations.
Adams, 58, from west Belfast, was convicted last month of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter Aine Dahlstrom in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Judge Philpott, who has already heard substantive pleas on mitigating and aggravating factors in the case, had sought additional information on potential monitoring that could be applied on release.
While probation authorities had already compiled a pre-sentence report on Liam Adams, the judge subsequently asked the relevant probation officer to provide her views on whether a time-limited custody probation order or the potentially more restrictive, and possibly indefinite, sex offender specific Article 26 measures would be required.
The judge said she had now received the probation officer's addendum to the original report but would not read it until she heard final submissions from lawyers.
Adams's barrister Eilis McDermott QC, arguing against Article 26 measures, said it was the defence's view that the probation report contained nothing that indicated Liam Adams would pose a serious risk on release.
"In our respectful submission in the probation report and the addendum that your honour has received there's no evidence on which your honour could be satisfied that there's a serious risk or the need to protect the public from serious harm from the accused in this case," she said.
The prosecution has provided written submissions on the matter to the judge.
Liam Adams, who is being sentenced under the terms of historic legislation that existed at the time of the offences, was not present for the short mention hearing.
Judge Philpott told his solicitor to inform him that she had reached the point where she could start her deliberations.
"I am now adjourning to consider sentence and I will get it done as soon as I can," she said.
At a previous pre-sentence hearing, the prosecution urged the judge to send Liam Adams to jail for at least 15 years.
In mitigation, the defence highlighted the paedophile's health problems and claimed the conditions of his sentence were set to be "more onerous" than other prisoners due to the fact he had to be held in high security accommodation over fears for his safety.
Liam Adams's convictions on 10 counts of rape and sexual assault have seen pressure heaped upon his high-profile older brother to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.
During a first trial earlier this year, which ultimately collapsed, the Sinn Fein leader, now a TD in the Irish Republic, claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him.
The former west Belfast MP has been criticised for not informing police at the time of the revelations, with his statements to detectives not coming until 2007 and 2009.
PSNI officers ultimately made a recommendation to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that no prosecution be taken against the Sinn Fein veteran.
Northern Ireland's police ombudsman has since launched a formal investigation into whether detectives properly examined if Gerry Adams covered up the crimes, while the PSNI has pledged to review the case.
Attorney general John Larkin is examining the role of prosecutors.
Gerry Adams has insisted he has committed no offence and has accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.