A convicted paedophile from Enniskillen has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for the rape and indecent assault of a child, who it has suffered from "severe psychological harm” as a result of the assaults.

Richard Francis (37) of Willoughby Place, was found guilty in May of this year and after a series of adjourned sentencing hearings was sentenced at Dungannon Crown Court last week.

Francis remained impassive in the dock upon sentencing, mostly staring at the floor and showing no reaction. Francis was also made subject to Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), banning contact with children on his eventual release.

Francis twice raped and indecently assaulted the girl on various dates during 2006. Aged 26 at the time, he first took his opportunity to sexually abuse the child during a hide-and-seek game, later culminating in rape.

At the ten day trial in May Francis maintained his innocence, in what a judge noted was deliberate planning by separating the victim from her playmates, and taking her to a shed to carry out the abuse undisturbed.

During the trial the court heard how the victim – aged just 9 - would play with other children in the area when she came to visit a relative.

At a previous hearing it emerged that Francis remained defiant in the face of the verdict, and furious with the victim.

He had been uncooperative and used foul language when interviewed by Probation Services for a pre-sentence report.

Maintaining his innocence he stated, “It’s b******t, I was found guilty. I’m here for her f*****g lies.”

At that hearing, his defence, while accepting imprisonment was inevitable, continued to assert willingness on the part of the victim.

In was claimed:

“It may be he took the opportunity which presented itself. It may be the first opportunity was spontaneous. She was young and the offences were committed against her when she willingly went to the shed with him, and willingly went to his house. “

After several adjourned sentencing hearings, Francis appeared before Dungannon Crown Court sitting in Belfast last Friday.

Judge Neil Rafferty QC said a victim impact report showed there has been "severe psychological harm'' as result of sexual assaults.

He noted the victim was distressed whilst the report was being compiled and is struggling to deal with what she had endured.

Judge Rafferty said aggravating factors in the case where the victim’s very young age, her vulnerability and the significant age difference between her and Francis.

He described the first incident as opportunistic' but found "some degree of premeditation to develop the modus operandi'' as offending continued.

Judge Rafferty said he had considered whether to impose a Custody Probation Order but decided "It would not be appropriate in this case as it is very difficult to identify what such an order would hope to achieve''.

Instead he handed down a combined total of 14 years imprisonment.

Francis was also made the subject of Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for a period of 15 years, which includes a ban on contact with any child aged under 16.

He was placed on the barred list of working with children and vulnerable adults and having been added to the Sex Offender Register immediately on conviction, will remain so until further order.