Eglinton sex offender jailed

Court image
Court image

A fruit and vegetable wholesaler, from Eglinton, was jailed for 14-and-a-half years for systematically sexually abusing young teenagers over a period of six years in the 1980s.

The Crown Court sitting at Antrim heard that Fred Ayton (62), of Donnybrewer Road, who was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders register, targeted the young girls in his home, at a holiday home at Inch in Donegal and also in his car.

It was claimed one of hundreds of incidents involving three girls while they were variously aged between 11 and 16 between 1981 and 1987 took place in his family home while his wife was in hospital giving birth to one of their children.

Ayton who was wearing a suit, shirt and tie, did not appear to show any emotion in the dock as he was led away.

His victims were not in court but the husband of one was in attendance, and declined to comment afterwards.

Jailing Ayton, Judge Donna McColgan QC, said he had deliberately befriended people he knew through sporting clubs so he could go on to groom and sexually abuse their daughters.

There were three victims, two of whom were targeted over a period of several years, including incidents as they alternatively baby-sat for Ayton on Friday and Saturday nights.

He gave the girls up to £30, six times the going rate for babysitting in the 1980s, and also bought them food carryouts and drink before abusing them.

Judge McColgan said in particular he had robbed two of his victims of their teenage years and said his behaviour was “exploitative, manipulative and abhorrent” and even now his attitude is still “boorish, loathesome and contemptible”.

The judge said one of Ayton’s victim’s said she felt brainwashed by him.

The judge said Ayton had a clear record and the court heard he had built up a business of supplying fruit and vegetable to the catering trade over 30 years but has now lost that.

Prosecutor Frank O’Donoghue QC said one of the victims recalled first meeting Ayton during a holiday at Inch in Donegal after he befriended her father and at first he used to playfight with her before sexually abusing her and telling not to tell anyone as she was a special girl and that nobody would believe her as her dad was his friend.

On another occasion as she babysat for him in Londonderry she woke up to find him sexually assaulting her and on another time the defendant had flown into a rage after he saw her kissing a teenage boy at Moville Regatta in County Donegal.

On a further occasion Ayton got her drunk on poteen before abusing her and she believed she had been abused hundreds of times over a five year period.

Another victim abused for several years babysat for the defendant on Friday nights and said Ayton was intimidating.

The third victim went to Ayton’s home to babysit with one of the victims when she was sexually assaulted.

Mr O’Donoghue said Ayton had “systematically groomed and abused two vulnerable young females” and said on some occasions the abuse occurred when Ayton’s wife and children were elsewhere in the house.

Ayton admitted a catalogue of offences including attempted rape, attempted buggery with a girl, 24 counts of indecent assault on a female and seven charges of gross indecency with or towards a child.

The court heard three rape charges were not proceeded with by the prosecution with the agreement of one of the victim’s after Ayton pleaded guilty to the other charges.

Defence QC Martin Rodgers said the defendant admitted he used the victims for his own gratification and his reputation in the community was now ruined.