Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Man who exposed himself 'must pay woman £1,000'

A man who exposed himself and performed a sex act in front of a park walker must pay her £1,000 compensation, a court ordered today.

James Rankin was also given a six-month suspended jail sentence and put on the sex offenders' register for seven years.
 

A judge in Belfast told the 36-year-old that he was "fast becoming a public menace".
 

Rankin, of Clareglen in the north of the city, pleaded guilty to a charge of exposure. A second count of indecent behaviour was withdrawn.
 

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard how the victim was targeted as she walked through Ballysillan Park in broad daylight last July.
 

A prosecution lawyer said a man standing five feet from her exposed his genitals and masturbated in front of her.
 

The woman, who fled in a distressed state, later picked Rankin out at a police identification procedure.
 

At first he denied the offence and claimed he wasn't even in the park on that day.
 

But as a contested hearing was due to get underway a guilty plea was entered to the exposure allegation.
 

It was also disclosed that Rankin has a previous conviction for an attempted sexual assault.
 

He was alleged to have propositioned and moved towards another woman in a park in June 2012.
 

Defence counsel Richard McConkey contended that his client should be given some credit for admitting the new offence. 
 

District Judge Amanda Henderson informed Rankin he would have gone straight to prison if he had made any physical contact with the victim.
 

She ordered him to pay the woman £1,000 after checking to ensure the source of the money would not cause her any further distress.
 

The court heard the victim intended to give the cash to a cancer charity.
 

Imposing the maximum six-month jail sentence for the offence, Judge Henderson suspended the term for three years.
 

She also told the defendant: "You are now fast becoming a public nuisance.
 

"It was only because the injured party was able to keep a controlled head... that you were apprehended. It's fully thanks to her powers of recall."

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