A JUDGE told the former mayor of St Helens John Beirne to reflect on the harm he had done to his victims as the ex-politician was sentenced to a suspended jail term for a string of historic sexual assaults.

Beirne, 56, had pleaded guilty to eight out of 15 charges of indecent assault he faced on Wednesday, June 7.

He was today (Monday) given a 16-month suspended sentence by Judge Robert Warnock at Liverpool Crown Court. 

Beirne, of Blackdown Grove, Parr, had pleaded guilty to sex offences with four boys aged between eight and 12 which took place between May 1975 and February 1980, when Beirne was in his late teens.
He appeared in the dock in a grey t-shirt and blue jacket, and nodded to confirm his name. 

Ben Jones, prosecuting, read the court three victim impact statements, obtained from three of the four individuals affected by the eight charges.

He said: "This is a series of sex offences going back to the late '70s and 1980s involving four boys from St Helens," adding that some of the victims had described Beirne as demonstrating "grooming behaviour".

The victims reported suffering depression in later life and said they felt a sense of shame.

One victim said he felt Beirne's "behaviour was a violation", another said he had "turned to drink" in later life and a third said he felt his childhood had been "cut short" and he has "night terrors" and feelings of "self-loathing".

Defending, Philip Astbury, said: "These were discreet incidents spread out over a long period," adding: "This is a man who has pleaded guilty but he doesn't accept every detail. His plea and acceptance is a step in the right direction. 

"His reputation, which was considerable, has gone. His business, lifestyle and partner have gone.

"At the time of the offences, he was a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, living in fairly challenging circumstances. He was ostracised and called names, groups of youths would abuse him and throw stones at the house."

He added: "Ever since (the offences), he has lived a constructive, worthwhile life. He has been a politician and successful councillor, all to the benefit of the community."

Judge Warnock told Beirne he would get a 10 per cent credit for the guilty plea which came on the day of the trial.

He said: "I want to make one thing absolutely clear – that these were predatory, pre-planned and persistent assaults. 

"You attempt to minimise and trivialise what happened all that time ago. To seek to minimise what you did is mere self-delusion.

"You must reflect on the harm you have done to your victims rather than be concerned about the impact appearing in court has had on your business.

"Your lack of remorse is concerning."

Before sentencing, the judge said he was taking into account Beirne's age at the time of the offences, good references and years of public service, and clean record.

The former mayor was a St Helens councillor for several decades and also stood in general elections for the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. 

Beirne was also asked to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years, was given a two-year community order, was ordered to attend a sex offenders programme and a 30-day rehabilitation activity.

He will also have to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work in the community and pay costs of £1,500. 

The remaining seven charges will "lie on file", the court heard.