Michael Hart – West Belfast
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West Belfast man jailed for sexual abuse of young girls he was babysitting
A convicted sex offender has been jailed for two years after he admitted sexually assaulting two girls he was babysitting.
Michael Hart, of Black Mountain Walk, West Belfast, had previously pleaded guilty to offences of child rape, indecent assault, cruelty to a person under 16 and common assault.
The offences were committed between April 1979 and April 1982 on three siblings who were aged between five and 12.
Belfast Crown Court heard today that Hart was aged between 14 and 17 when he looked after the children while their mother went out socialising.
A prosecution lawyer said one girl told police how Hart, now aged 58, made her play a game of hide and seek. She hid in a cupboard and Hart came in and sexually assaulted her. On another occasion he got into bed beside her and raped her.
The court heard when she later told her mother about the serious sexual assaults, her mother didn’t believe her and she was sent to England to live with her father.
Her sister told police how Hart got into her single bed and committed a sexual offence on her and also assaulted her.
Their older brother revealed the accused once threw a knife at him which went into his foot. He also threatened to stab him.
Belfast Crown Court heard Hart is currently serving a 10-year sentence for raping a woman he had picked up in his taxi outside a nightclub in Belfast city centre.
The court was also told that the defendant’s father Archibald Hart was previously convicted of indecent assaults and was jailed for six months.
The Probation Service assessed Hart as a medium likelihood of reoffending but said he did not pose a danger to the public in the future.
Judge Paul Ramsey KC said all three siblings had made “heartfelt and articulate’’ victim impact statements. They said they were now “living a life sentence of pain and anguish’’.
The judge said that by Hart’s guilty pleas he had saved his victims the “ordeal of having to give evidence at his trial’’.
He added that under the law he had to sentence Hart as a juvenile as he was under 18 at the time he committed the offences and imposed a 24-month global sentence.
Hart was placed on sex offenders register for ten years and made the subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.