March 2011

Barry man jailed for child abuse

A JUDGE has advised a Barry man to spend time thinking about the “legacy” he has created – after jailing him for abusing a child.

Her Honour, Judge Helen Mifflin last week sentenced James Thomas McKernan, also known as Ali, to three years in prison after he was convicted of sexually touching a girl under the age of 13 at his Barry home, between November 24 2008 and July 3 last year.

A jury decided McKernan, a former Barry Island amusement arcade worker and High Street pet shop trader, was guilty of three specimen charges of sexual offences following a three-and-a-half day trial at Cardiff Crown Court last month.

The unemployed 26-year-old denied committing the offences.

Judge Mifflin told McKernan he had used his puppy to “groom” the girl and warned her not to tell as the police would get involved.

She said: “Your contact with her (the child) was promoted by allowing her to develop a bond with your dog which you further used as an aid tocontinue your offences.

“You persistently groomed this child.

“You have shown no remorse or insight into your actions and no motivation to change.”

She told him the child now suffers nightmares and the impact of his crime was likely to last beyond childhood.

“That is your legacy to this child,” she added.

The court heard, in February, that the child – who cannot be named for legal reasons – had confided in her maternal grandmother.

The child, giving evidence to the court via video link, said McKernan’s actions had made her feel “sad” and the abuse had happened in his living room when she visited his house.

She told the court: “I said stop it.

“I was trying to move, but he just pulled me back with his hand.

Giving evidence to the court, the maternal grandmother added: “She told me he was messing around with her penny.

“I was shocked.

“She said I could tell you because if I told you the police would get involved and she wouldn’t be able to see the dog anymore.”

DC, Judith Nunn told the court McKernan had said, in his statement, that the allegations were false.

The statement said: “It’s untrue.

“We are soulmates.

“She is just amazing – she’s a brilliant child and I can’t understand why she is saying anything like that.”

McKernan told the court they would visit the beach, the arcades or the park, but he denied sexually touching her.

Judge Mifflin recommended McKernan serve at least half of his three-year sentence.

He was placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and given a sexual offences prevention order banning him from having any unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 years of age.