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Coleraine nursing home pensioner (72) tried to drag carer into bed as he fondled himself

By Nevin Farrell

Published 16/08/2016

Guilty plea: Desmond O’Neill
Guilty plea: Desmond O’Neill

A pensioner in a residential home told a carer he would like a "pretty thing" in bed with him and then laughed as he tried to drag her on top of him, a court has heard.

Desmond Henderson O'Neill (72) appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court and admitted a charge of sexually assaulting the woman at the care home in the Coleraine area.

The charge was that O'Neill intentionally touched the woman, the circumstances being that the touching was sexual.

The court was told that after the incident he was moved to another care home in Co Tyrone.

His address was given as Drapersfield Road, Cookstown.

A prosecutor said that on May 3, 2015, a female staff member went in to O'Neill's room in the care home to administer medication.

At the time the light was on and the defendant was fully clothed, but he made comments to her about having a "pretty thing" beside him in bed.

Supper was then prepared and the member of staff returned to the room, but this time O'Neill was in bed with the lights out and his clothing on the floor.

The pensioner then threw back the quilt. He was engaging in a sex act and laughing as he looked at her.

He tried to drag her into the bed with his free hand, but the staff member was able to escape and reported the matter.

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty accepted it would have been a "very troubling" incident for the care worker.

He said O'Neill had psychiatric issues dating back to the 1970s and "this kind of behaviour is the norm for him".

Mr Rafferty added: "It is quite clear that he is guilty of leering and inappropriate behaviour."

District Judge Liam McNally noted there was a "high risk" of reoffending.

He told O'Neill that normally for such a serious offence he would impose a four-month prison term for what he said was a "traumatic and very serious" experience for the residential worker.

He added: "The court has a duty to protect these people, who have a difficult job."

However, he said he had to acknowledge O'Neill's guilty plea and clear record, and the fact he was dealing with a 72-year-old man with mental health difficulties.

He suspended the sentence for two years.

He warned O'Neill: "Don't ever think about making any rude remarks or gestures to any member of staff or residents."

The judge also imposed a two-year long Sexual Offences Prevention Order, banning him from acting inappropriately towards any female in the care system.

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