Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Son follows father to jail in separate sex assault cases

David McFerran at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, where he was jailed for indecently assaulting a teenage girl

A former primary school caretaker has been jailed for indecently assaulting a teenage girl on two occasions.

David McFerran – whose father Harry was jailed for a total of 16 years on Wednesday for sexually abusing two brothers over a 10-year period – was handed a 12-month sentence and was banned from working with children after being found guilty by a jury of five charges.

The 32-year old, from Orangefield Road in Belfast, will spend six months of his sentence in prison with the remaining six months spent on supervised licence when he is released from custody. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

During a four-day trial at Belfast Crown Court earlier this year, the jury heard that McFerran was accused of indecently assaulting his teenage victim on two occasions between May 1999 and May 2002. He denied the accusations, branding his victim a fantasist – however, the jury rejected his claims and convicted him on five counts of indecently assaulting the injured party, who at the time was aged around 13 or 14.

The first incident occurred when McFerran offered to take the teenager for a drive, when he was aged around 18. He drove to a car park in the Belmont area of east Belfast and after chatting for a while, McFerran grabbed her leg and kissed her. Other vehicles were entering and exiting the car park, prompting McFerran to drive to another car park where he put his hand down her bra.

The second incident took place a few months later when she walked past McFerran, who was washing his car in the street. The victim said he called her into his garage, and she thought he was going to apologise for what had taken place in the car parks. However, McFerran again grabbed her, kissed her, put his hand down her bra. The jury was told that when he was arrested and interviewed, McFerran strenuously denied an inappropriate conduct had taken place. And despite being found guilty by a jury on all five charges, McFerran continues to deny he sexually assaulted the girl.

Confirming his client "is still denying the charges", defence barrister Taylor Campbell told Judge Donna McColgan that at the time of the offences there was a "relatively short age gap" between his "sexually inexperienced" client and his victim.

Making reference to Harry McFerran's sentence on Wednesday, Mr Campbell said he had "never come across a father being sentenced one day and son the next day", adding : "If this defendant wasn't before the court at all, he would be a devastated young man anyway, seeing his father's trial."

Judge McColgan QC said there was "no evidence he has led anything other than a blameless life since these offences", adding that as McFerran continues to maintain his innocence, it was difficult to ascertain whether he presented a risk of harm or reoffending in the future.

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