Ballymena paedophile is jailed

Leonard McAuley.
Leonard McAuley.

A sex offender from Ballymena who committed sex attacks on two Scottish schoolgirls more than 30 years ago has been jailed for 17 months.

Leonard McAuley (64) had a previous conviction for sex assaults on girls in Northern Ireland when he was jailed for four years in 1994.

Airdrie Sheriff Court was told how McAuley indecently assaulted one of the girls, then aged between nine and 11, on various occasions over a three-year period at two houses in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1986.

He forced the young girl to carry out a variety of sordid sex acts on him, indecently attacked her and performed a sex act in front of her.

McAuley, of Devenagh Way, Ballymena, also pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting another young Coatbridge girl, then aged nine, performing a sex act on her and attempting to perform another, at a house in Coatbridge, on one occasion between February 23, 1985 and July 1, 1985.

He was due to go to trial in Airdrie before a jury in January, where his two victims, now aged 40 and 38, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were cited and expected to give evidence.

Following negotiations, he changed his plea to guilty at the last minute, saving the women the stress of having to give evidence and relive the horrific abuse.

He first appeared at Airdrie Sheriff Court charged with the offences on April 15, 2013.

This week both of the women tabled victim impact statements before Sheriff Frank Pieri, for him to consider before sentencing McAuley.

Prosecutor Ann Francis Hilley said: “The first of his Coatbridge victims told how she was indecently assaulted on a number of occasions over a three-year period until she was 11.”

Defence Counsel Tony Lenaghan said: “There were events in the late 1960s and early 1990s, during which time he committed similar offences in Northern Ireland and was jailed in 1994 for four years.

“His time in prison was a time of rehabilitation. These offences pre-date his time in prison in Northern Ireland.”

Sentencing McAuley, Sheriff Frank Pieri told him: “The fact remains these are very serious offences you have pleaded guilty to and prison is the only possible disposal.”

He was also put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.