A former UDR soldier who went on to work for the Ministry of Defence for over 20 years has avoided prison for historic sexual abuse of children committed while he was a teenager.
James White, 68, from Main Street, Tynan “categorically” denied the charges when interviewed by police and at court, but later admitted two counts each of indecent assault and gross indecency with a female child, as well as a single count of gross indecency with a male child.
Offending occurred in the early 1970’s, when White was 17 and significantly older than the victims.
Dungannon Crown Court heard despite years of no engagement, White contacted the female victim out of the blue in 2019, triggering traumatic memories.
She reported the matters to police and White was arrested, denying all allegations put to him.
The male victim also provided evidence, corroborating the female’s accounts.
In the first instance White took the girl into a wardrobe “rubbed his groin against her and exposed himself”.
He performed a sex act on himself, before having the girl sexually touch him.
Further similar instances occurred including one in which White was wearing his UDR uniform.
The male victim detailed an occasion when he was with White at an old railway track. When hidden from view, he told the boy he was going to show him something and proceeded to expose himself then perform out a sex act on himself.
The male victim said when this ended, White, “carried on as if nothing had happened”.
On another occasion, White exposed himself to both children and asked them to touch him.
The boy “was now old enough to know this was wrong and took the other child from the house. The incident was never mentioned again”.
A defence barrister said his client expressed extreme remorse and regret for his actions and the guilty pleas had spared both victims the necessity of giving evidence at trial.
A “detailed and realistic” pre-sentence report noted White worked in a number of roles including 23 years with the Ministry of Defence from which he retired just before the Covid pandemic.
He has been diagnosed with a number of issues and his family are supporting him with these and the court process.
Judge Paul Ramsay remarked: “It often appears to the public there is a focus on the defendant in cases such as this, to the detriment of the victim. This is for the court to arrive at the appropriate sentence. That doesn’t mean we forget about the victim or are not aware of their profound upset caused by the defendant’s actions.”
Turning to a “moving and poignant” Victim Impact Statement provided by the female, the judge noted she described being “too young to understand what was going on but instinctively knew it was wrong. It was frightening because it was done in secret but White was in control and she was powerless and too innocent to say anything to anyone”.
Although still affected by the abuse which was traumatic to relive, she considers herself “a victim, but also a survivor. It was a terrible secret carried for years, but she now feels free and has gained back power”.
Judge Ramsay took into account White’s age at the time and handed down a sentence of 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Restraining Orders banning contact with both victims for 12 months were imposed and he will remain subject to Sex Offender Registration for 10 years.