Portadown woman gets justice 32 years after she was victim of sex assault

Ivor Cochrane.

Ivor Cochrane.

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A Portadown woman who was sexually assaulted 32 years ago, when she was aged just 14, finally saw her attacker convicted on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old mother, who battled bulimia for years after the incident, said she felt as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

Her attacker, Ivor Cochrane (53), originally from Banbridge but now living in Monastervin, Kildare, appeared in the dock at Newry Crown Court.

He had been charged with rape but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of indecent assault.

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for two years and placed on the Sex Offender Register for 10 years.

The offence took place in the Poyntzpass area on July 12, 1982 after the victim agreed to go out for a drive with Cochrane.

She had met him at a band parade earlier that day and believed him when he told her he was a policeman.

for two years and placed on the Sex Offender Register for 10 years. He was also disqualified from working with children.

The offence took place in the Poyntzpass area on July 12, 1982 after the victim agreed to go out for a drive with Cochrane.

She had met him at a band parade earlier that day and believed him when he told her he was a policeman.

For years, the victim had kept her attack secret from all but a handful of people, but a newspaper report last year proved the spur for her to go to the police. She said, “There was a story in the Portadown Times on another man and it said he abused three girls, one aged 14. When I read that it was like somebody putting a dagger through my heart.

“A verse came to me from the day before in church - ‘For I have not given you the spirit of fear but of power, love and self-control’ - and I thought, ‘I need to report that man. What if he has done it to other people?’.

“I had tried to bury it for all those years because to my mind it was shameful and disgraceful. But I realised then that it was not my fault - I was only 14 and he had tricked me and taken me out for one purpose only.”

The then-teenager had been out in a bar with her mother and mother’s friend after the band parade when Cochrane came over to speak to them. He stayed in their company for the next hour or two.

She said, “He was a very good-looking fella and I thought he was lovely. He told me he was a policeman. I was very innocent then and had never had a proper boyfriend or any type of sexual relations.”

Her mother’s friend gave Cochrane a lift back to Banbridge and later that night he joined them at a dance in the Royal British Legion in Poyntzpass.

Said the woman, “He arrived late and asked me if I wanted to go for a spin in the car. I never thought for a moment there was any reason to be scared. We were talking away when he stopped the car and came over to my side. I thought he was coming over for a kiss and a cuddle but he proceeded to attack me.

“I was telling him to stop and pushing him off but he just over-powered me. Afterwards he left me back to the hall.

“I was shocked, a complete mess and scared of being pregnant but I was afraid to tell my mum as I knew she would have been angry that I had gone out in the car with him.”

A short time afterwards, she turned to binge eating and taking laxatives as well as sniffing petrol and thinners.