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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Paedophile 'may exploit loophole'
Silhouette of actress posing as rape victim
The law on statutory rape has been deemed unconstitutional
A paedophile from Northern Ireland in jail in Dublin may appeal his conviction after a legal loophole.

The High Court in Dublin ruled that a 41-year-old man, convicted of unlawful carnal knowledge of a 12-year-old girl, should be released.

Now John Adams, originally from Belfast - who was given four life sentences for grooming three children for sex - could appeal against his 2003 conviction.

His daughter Sonia said she was shocked by the Irish courts' decisions.

"It has instilled much fear - not only in myself - but also the three victims which John Adams is actually serving the four life sentences for," she said.

"The basic human rights of children - the safety and protection of them - is being seriously undermined

"I feel very strongly that the law must stand firm on this appalling crime to make sure that the innocence of a child remains intact."

On Friday, the Irish government is to rush through emergency legislation to plug the loophole.

'Freedom to argue'

Last week, the Republic of Ireland's Supreme Court ruled parts of the existing law were unconstitutional.

The court said the law did not allow a defence of making a genuine mistake about a girl's age.

The High Court decided, in the wake of that ruling, to free the man, known only as Mr A.

He had sex with the 12-year-old girl after plying her with alcohol.

The Supreme Court judges said the accused man should have the freedom to argue in court that he did not know the girl's age.

Legal experts quickly identified several further cases involving sex offenders currently behind bars who, after the Supreme Court ruling, could be freed in the coming weeks.

In July 2003, Adams was jailed for attacks on girls in County Louth.

Adams, 65, with a last known address at Dunvale, Ballymena, County Antrim, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual abuse over a period of three years.

Adams, who had a previous conviction for child stealing in Belfast, was apprehended by members of the then Royal Ulster Constabulary in February 1997 when they found numerous pictures of himself in sexual activity with young girls hidden in his home.

The pictures were concealed behind picture frames placed in various areas of his Ballymena house and showed the three girls involved in this case.

The girls involved were aged six, eight and 10 years of age at the time.


SEE ALSO:
High Court frees 'child rapist'
30 May 06 |  Northern Ireland
Life sentences for sex offender
28 Jul 03 |  Northern Ireland



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