07 Jul 2022

Former Derry Deputy Mayor guilty of sex abuse of young girl

Former Derry Deputy Mayor guilty of sex abuse of young girl

Former Deputy Mayor, Jim McKeever, in custody awaiting sentencing,

A former Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council is in custody awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of historical child sexual abuse.

Jim McKeever, 63, was found guilty of eight offences against a young girl that spanned  a period from August 1981 to December 1988.

The jury  at Belfast Crown Court returned unanimous guilty verdicts on six indecent assault charges, and found McKeever, from Tamneyreagh Park in Eglinton, not guilty of a seventh charge.

He was also convicted on two charges of gross indecency - one unanimously and the other by a majority of ten-to-two.

McKeever, who was suspended from the SDLP when the charges came to light, will be sentenced in September.

Rejecting an application from a defence barrister, Judge Donna McColgan said  as McKeever had been convicted by a jury of sexual offences against a child 'he will be remanded in custody until sentencing."'

An SDLP spokesperson said he has now been expelled from the party and called for him to resign his seat on Derry City and Strabane District Council.

In a statement the victim, who was aged between seven and 14 at the time, said nothing would 'erase" what the former SDLP councillor had done.

Following Tuesday's verdict, the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Nothing is going to erase what that man done to me but today justice has been served.

“If anybody has been in the same situation as me I would ask them to come forward to police and speak out.”

The PSNI officer who headed the investigation paid tribute to the victim for her 'bravery' in coming forward.

Detective Constable Ruth Phelan said: “This has been a very traumatic ordeal for the victim and I commend her for bravely coming forward to report to us.

“I hope that her strength and confidence in the police to conduct a thorough investigation encourages other victims of child abuse who have felt silenced, to come forward too.

“We have a team of dedicated detectives who are determined to bring anyone involved in any form of child abuse before the courts to answer for their crimes, no matter when they occurred.

“I would continue to encourage anyone who has experienced any form of sexual abuse to contact police on 101, or in an emergency call 999.

“Once you’ve made a report, you don’t have to come into a police station, detectives can arrange to meet you at a time and place that best suits you.”

McKeever, who represented the Faughan District Electoral Area, contested his first election for the SDLP in the local council elections in 1997 but failed to take a seat on that occasion.

He was then elected to Derry City Council in 2001, and subsequently re-elected in 2005.

He didn’t contest the 2011 Derry City Council elections but was elected to the new Derry City and Strabane District Council in 2014, acting as Deputy Mayor from June 2016 to June the following year.

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