Six-year jail term for paedophile

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A Portadown man who got his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant was branded a “persistent paedophile” by a judge.

Kenneth Rutherford, aged 49, from Derrycarne Road, was given a six-year sentence for sexual and violent offences against the girl when he appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

He will serve half his sentence in prison and half on supervised licence upon his release, after he admitted a string of charges.

The defendant pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the girl over a period spanning January 2006 to October 2007, assaulting her and breaking her ribs, and causing her to fear violence.

The court heard that Rutherford embarked on a sexual relationship with her when she was 14 years old.

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said that when the girl became pregnant with his child in September 2006, Rutherford “behaved towards her in a threatening manner, causing her to fear violence throughout that period, and in fact most of their relationship”.

In January 2007, he attacked her and fractured her ribs, and he also threatened her with violence whilst she was pregnant.

The prosecutor said the victim had suffered “lasting psychological impact”.

Mrs McKay also said Rutherford has a relevant criminal record for offences against an underage female, and is facing other sexual charges against a 15-year old girl.

Rutherford, the court heard, has been deemed both dangerous and of presenting a high risk of reoffending by Probation.

Defence barrister Seamus Lannon said his client maintains he thought the girl was over 18 when he formed a sexual relationship with her.

Mr Lannon said that when Rutherford was five, his father was blown up on the family farm in an explosion aimed at the security forces.

Judge Kerr said that after reading a Probation report on Rutherford it was “absolutely clear that this defendant considers he is not fully responsible, and continues to blame his victim”.

Rutherford was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life, and was made the subject of a 10-year SOPO (Sexual Offences Prevention Order).