Belfast pensioner is given probation order for sex act on boy (14)
A 68-year-old Belfast man who sexually abused his teenage dog walker has been made the subject of a three-year probation order.
Judge Patricia Smyth said that had Colin Moffatt not already spent the equivalent of a two-year sentence on remand she would have handed him a jail term.
Moffatt, from the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast, admitted a charge of sexually touching the 14-year-old on a specified date between September 20 and October 14 last year.
Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said that the offence came to light at the end of last October when a police welfare officer called at the home of the teenage boy.
The welfare officer informed his family that his friend had witnessed an incident in Moffatt's home involving him and the pensioner.
The friend said that he and the teenager called to Moffatt's house, that he waited outside, but when he looked through a window he saw the teenager and Moffatt in the kitchen.
He also said he saw Moffatt carrying out a sex act on the teenager.
While the boy initially said he didn't want to become involved in the police investigation, he later told officers what had occurred.
Mrs McKay said that the boy "was concerned about the whole process and embarrassed by the situation he found himself in".
Mrs McKay also revealed that the victim and his friend became friendly with Moffatt after meeting him at a bonfire, and that he used to pay them for carrying wood to his house and walking his dog.
The prosecutor said the incident was a one-off, adding at the age of 68, Moffatt appeared in court with a completely clear criminal record.
When he was arrested, Moffatt initially denied any sexual activity had occurred between himself and the 14-year-old.
However, he later admitted what he had done, which Mrs McKay said spared the teenager from having to come to court to give evidence.
Defence barrister Terence McDonald QC said that Moffatt led an isolated life and was estranged from his family.
Pointing out that there had been no offending before or after the incident involving the boy, Mr McDonald said that while on remand Moffatt had not received a single visit.
The barrister also said that his client was someone who would benefit from probation.
Passing sentence, Judge Smyth said she accepted that the incident in question lasted only a short period of time.
But she added that those who abused children deserved to be punished.
Making Moffatt the subject of a three-year probation order, the judge recommended that he attend a sexual offenders' treatment programme.
Judge Smyth also ordered that Moffatt was to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for a period of five years.