Musician faces sex abuse charges

Published Monday, 02 June 2014
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A member of one of Ireland's most famous musical families allegedly abused a 15-year-old girl in a music workshop, during trips across the border and in his car, a jury has heard.

Musician faces sex abuse charges
Traditional musician Francis McPeake, who denies the charges, pictured last year (© Pacemaker)

Francis McPeake - whose family is well known in traditional Irish music circles - is standing trial at Belfast Crown Court where he is facing 12 counts of sexually abusing the teenager in 2009 and 2010.

The 72-year-old, who was aged around 67 at the time of the alleged offences, has denied the teenager's claims and told police the girl was "attempting to destroy" his life.

The complainant, now aged 20, told the jury at Monday's trial that she "looked up" to McPeake, that she "thought he was it" and how the musician was a "role model" to her.

She also said how she "felt privileged" when he took her to an exhibition on his famous family.

Opening the case against McPeake to the jury, Crown prosecutor Charles MacCreanor QC said the issue in this case was not one of consent, but rather that "this young child was taken in by McPeake ... he used her and abused her for this own sexual needs."

He also urged the jury to be undertake a "cool, calm assessment of the evidence" and said "if someone is 15 they are a child and you just can't do these things to a 15-year old child.

"The central issue is, did McPeake do these things."

The girl went to the police in December 2012, and McPeake voluntary attended for interview in the spring of 2013.

McPeake's solicitor read out a statement on behalf of his client, which said: "I have never done anything with this child."

He branded her allegations as "false, malicious and without foundation", claimed he and his family had suffered due to a "campaign of harassment" from her and her relatives since 2010, and added: "She is attempting to destroy my life."

He then replied 'no comment' to questions that were put to him during interviews.

© UTV News
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