A woman who was sexually assaulted 32 years ago, when she was aged just 14 , finally saw her attacker convicted last Tuesday.
Her attacker, Ivor Cochrane (53), originally from Banbridge but now living in Monastervin, Kildare, appeared in the dock at Newry Crown Court
He had been charged with rape but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of indecent assault. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for two years and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.
The 47-year-old Portadown mother said she felt as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
The offence took place in the Poyntzpass area on July 12, 1982 after the victim agreed to go out for a drive with Cochrane. She had met him at a band parade earlier that day and believed him when he told her he was a policeman.
For years, the victim had kept her attack secret from all but a handful of people, but a newspaper report last year proved the spur for her to go to the police. She said, “There was a story in the Portadown Times on Paul Gardiner and it said he abused three girls, one aged 14. When I read that it was like somebody putting a dagger through my heart.
“A verse came to me from the day before in church ‘For I have not given you the spirit of fear but of power, love and self-control’ - and I thought, ‘I need to report that man.
“I had tried to bury it for all those years because to my mind it was shameful. But I realised then that it was not my fault. He told me he was a policeman. I was very innocent then and had never had a proper boyfriend or any type of sexual relations.”
Her mother’s friend gave Cochrane a lift back to Banbridge and later that night he joined them at a dance in the Royal British Legion in Poyntzpass.
Said the woman, “He arrived late and asked me if I wanted to go for a spin in the car.
“We were talking away when he stopped the car and came over to my side.
“I thought he was coming over for a kiss and a cuddle but he proceeded to rape me.
“I was telling him to stop and pushing him off but he just over-powered me. Afterwards he left me back to the hall.
“I was shocked, a complete mess but I was afraid to tell my mum as I knew she would have been really angry that I had gone out in the car with him.”