A MAN who had been sexually abused as a boy by the village priest’s cousin molested his friend’s daughter during a sleepover at his home.

John Dunne had denied touching the girl but was found guilty unanimously by a jury at Swindon Crown Court on Friday after five hours’ deliberation.

The 54-year-old was living in a Swindon maisonette having split with the mother of his daughter. The girl stayed with him on occasional weekends.

He had known the complainant since she was a young girl.

Jurors heard in summer 2011 she went for a sleepover with Dunne’s daughter at his home.

The complainant’s memory of the details was limited, but Dunne himself thought the she would probably have come over around 3pm and played with dolls before eating dinner then falling asleep while watching a film in his daughter’s bedroom.

Dunne, a lorry driver, claimed he would not have drunk alcohol as he was looking after the children.

The alleged victim, who was aged nine or 10 at the time, told jurors she was given beer by the older man and he kissed her on the lips between sips.

She remembered being in bed but claimed to have later woken up in Dunne’s bed.

The older man was lying behind her, with his hand feeling her stomach and chest beneath her pyjama top. Asked what he was doing, he said he was “looking for her bellybutton”. The girl, now 18, told jurors: “I was scared and I froze and I went back to sleep.”

Prosecutor Rob Welling said: “She told the police afterwards she felt she’d be in trouble and it was for that reason she felt she couldn’t tell her parents.”

The teen later told her boyfriend and, six months later, her mother in late 2017.

Dunne strenuously denied the assault, saying he had not been alone with the girl during the sleepover and a back injury meant he could not have picked her up and carried her to his bed.

It emerged during the trial Dunne had made searches on his computer for child sex abuse images. He said he had been sexually abused by an older man when he was growing up in Ireland.

He had searched the internet to try and understand why adults might molest children.

David Maunder, defending, acknowledged his client was “messed up”.

Dunne, now of Westwood Road, Southampton, was bailed to be sentenced on Thursday, March 19.