A dangerous sex offender who was caught driving while disqualified has walked free from court after his nine-month jail term was suspended for 18 months.
Also imposing a five-year driving ban at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Norman Lockie told 21-year-old Thomas Christopher Charles Ward he hoped the sentence would “prove to be a deterrent” to him as he had amassed numerous driving convictions over the last four years.
Ward, from Beechmount Parade in Belfast, was caught driving his father-in-law's Ford Transit van in the Slibh Dubh View area of west Belfast and later pleaded guilty to taking it without the owner’s consent, driving while banned and without insurance on July 29 last year.
Ward appeared before Judge Lockie yesterday following a breach of curfew conditions imposed on a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and was released on bail when the judge adjourned passing sentence until next March.
The SOPO was put in place after Ward, originally from Coalisland, was released from a four-year jail term for the sexual assault of a Co Tyrone woman.
Previous courts have heard that Ward's risk management team have assessed him to be a “category three” sex offender — the most dangerous category.
Ward had pleaded guilty to indecent assault inflicting actual bodily harm and false imprisonment following the attack on the 45-year-old woman in 2006.
During the attack Ward knocked his victim's teeth out as she fought him off and the assault only ended after the woman hit him with her handbag wrapped around her hand, before biting his fingers.