A 39-year old man “adamantly denied” allegations that he sexually abused his two young nieces, a jury heard on Monday.
he accused, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainants, is standing trial at Belfast Crown Court on a total of eight historic sexual abuse charges.
The alleged offences include sexual assault of a child, indecent assault and gross indecency.
As the Crown case against the north Belfast man was opened, the jury of six men and six women heard one of the alleged victims was aged around two when the abuse began.
Prosecution barrister David McNeill said the abuse occurred over a period spanning from 2000 to 2012 when the accused was aged between 18 and 31, and that the two complainants were the defendant’s two nieces.
The first complainant alleged she was targeted by her uncle who at the time lived in the family home.
Her younger sister claimed she was abused by her uncle when she stayed over at his house for sleepovers with her cousin.
Mr McNeill told the jury the first complainant, who is now 25, was subjected to abuse when she was aged between five and ten.
She claimed her ordeal began after she walked into her uncle’s bedroom when he was watching pornography.
She also recalled pretending to be asleep when her uncle came into her bedroom and abused her at night, and of feeling numb and shocked by the abuse.
Mr McNeill said the abuse came to an end when she left her mother’s home and went to live with her father aged 11.
The second complainant, who is now 21, was aged between two and 11 when she was abused.
She recalled having sleepovers at her cousin’s house, where she was abused by her uncle, and also claimed she was targeted by him during a family holiday on the North Coast.
The jury heard that whilst the sisters didn’t disclose what happened to them until years later, as a child the younger girl told a relative her uncle had touched her – but at the time it was believed she was “making things up”.
In 2015, she told her partner what happened, and in the same year, her older sister also disclosed the abuse to a family member.
Mr McNeill said that in 2018, “things came to a head”, which resulted in the complainants contacting the police.
In November 2019, the accused attended with the PSNI and when the allegations were put to him, he “adamantly denied committing the offences”.