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CHILD KILLER WHO WENT ON THE RUN ADMITS TO ABUSING YOUNG BOY; Pervert, 56, changes plea in court.

Byline: ASHLEIGH MCDONALD

A CHILD killer who went on the run admitted yesterday to sexually abusing a young boy.

John Clifford, who is currently serving a sentence for raping and murdering his niece, admitted indecently assaulting the boy in the mid-1980s.

He initially denied the offences and the trial was opened but a defence barrister asked that his client be re-arraigned.

The 56-year-old pervert, of "no fixed abode", then pleaded guilty to the sex offences, which occurred in the south east Antrim area between 1984 and 1986.

The offences against the child took place before Clifford was jailed in 1989 for the rape and murder of his eightyear-old niece.

Sue-Ellen Clifford was taken from her North Belfast home by her uncle who sexually assaulted and strangled her before dumping the youngster's body on a disused railway line.

Clifford was sentenced for the murder and released in 2005, but was sent back to prison for breaching his probation.

He then went on the run last September - which sparked a crossborder manhunt - after attending an appointment but not returning to custody.

At the time, Clifford was in a satellite unit of Maghaberry in Belfast which houses inmates nearing the end of their sentence.

Following a week on the run, Clifford was arrested in Newry, Co Down, and returned to custody.

He was back at Belfast Crown Court this week where a jury was sworn in to preside over the hearing.

The eight women and four men were not told of Clifford's past and heard the Crown's case regarding the charges against the boy.

Prosecutors said Clifford targeted the boy and abused him while the pair watched videos featuring train journeys, telling the youngster it was a game.

The jury was told despite the abuse occurred in the mid 80s, the complainant only went to the police "more recently".

When Clifford was interviewed about the allegations, he initially denied the claims and said he had done nothing untoward.

After Clifford changed his plea, the foreperson of the jury was told by Judge David McFarland to return "guilty by confession" verdicts.

The judge ordered a victim impact report be compiled ahead of sentencing, which is due to take place on April 10.

Clifford was remanded back into custody.

irish@mgn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

dangerous predator John Clifford raped and murdered his niece

SNARED Clifford went on the run last year

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2019
Words:397
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