Man jailed over 'campaign of rape'

Published Friday, 27 April 2012
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A Co Fermanagh man, who once claimed he was the victim of a Facebook hate campaign, has been jailed for seven years and put on the Sex Offenders' Register for life for the repeated rapes of two youngsters.

Man jailed over 'campaign of rape'
The judge spoke of "a campaign of rape". (© UTV)

It was when 33-year-old Leo Joseph Hoad went to police to complain about the campaign, which included death threats, that he was arrested for the sex abuse of the girls.

However, in the week before his trial was to begin last month, Hoad from Burnside Park, Enniskillen, pleaded guilty to what Dungannon Crown Court Judge Melody McReynolds described as a "campaign of rape".

In the first ten of the 13 counts, Hoad admitted raping one youngster over an 18 month period from January 1992 until July 1993 from when she was aged from eight and he was 13.

In the remaining three charges, he pleaded guilty to two of indecently assaulting and one of raping the girl over a two year period up to January 2000 when he was 19 or 21 and she a child of seven to nine.

After his sentencing on Friday, one of his victims, who was in court to heard Judge McReynolds say that Hoad now accepted that he had "wrecked the lives of these two young women", said that she was "happy there has been a result and justice has been done".

She and Hoad's other victim had originally gone to police in June last year after his local paper, The Impartial Reporter, ran a front page story of a tearful Hoad complaining of the Facebook campaign.

The hate campaign started initially after charges of sexually abusing two different girls, who were aged 14, were withdrawn in February last year by the Public Prosecution Services.

Protesting his innocence, Hoad claimed to the paper that he was the target of a hate crime orchestrated by many of his neighbours, in which he was branded "a scumbag ... human filth".

On the Facebook site, protesters were allegedly urged that Hoad "should be tortured to death" for his crimes against children.

Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer who referred briefly to the newspaper article, said the original sex charges had been withdrawn, and were not relevant, nor was his past criminal record which had nothing of a sexual nature.

Defence QC Adrian Coulton said that Hoad should receive a considerable discount in sentence for his admissions, and that it was hoped his acknowledgement of guilt would be of "some comfort" to his victims.

Mr Coulton said that the pleas had also saved considerable public expense and court time in a case, which Judge McReynolds acknowledge was not as "straight forward" as may have been thought.

As part of his sentence Hoad, who has been banned from working with children and vulnerable adults, and is not allowed unsupervised access to anyone under 16, must undergo three years probation.

During that period Hoad may live only at an approved address, and must complete a group sex offenders' programme, which Judge McReynolds should provide added protection for the public.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Marty in Changi, Singapore wrote (1,009 days ago):
Sometimes i believe prison just isn't enough.
paul in bangor wrote (1,010 days ago):
he should have got more than seven years for his evil crimes?
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