Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile barred from contact with children gave little girl an ice cream

By Alan Erwin

A category-one sex offender breached a ban on contact with children by giving an ice cream to a girl believed to be five years old, a court has heard.

Thomas William McConnell told police the child followed him part-way into his flat to get the treat.

The 77-year-old, of Cliftonville Avenue, Belfast, pleaded guilty to breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

McConnell, who appeared before the city's Magistrates Court on a walking stick yesterday, will now be sentenced next month.

No details of the original offences which led to the order being imposed on him were disclosed.

But under the terms of the order he is prohibited from associating with anyone under 18 unless approved by social services.

Setting out the details of the breach, a prosecution lawyer said McConnell informed police about the incident during a routine, unannounced visit to his home last October.

He had been carrying ice creams for other residents of the Fold where he lives when the child spotted him.

The court heard she followed him part-way into his flat when he went in to get her one.

McConnell then attended for a police interview.

Deemed vulnerable due to his age, an appropriate adult accompanied him.

During interview he admitted being aware of the sexual offences prevention order requirements and to giving the girl an ice cream.

The pensioner stressed it had only happened once.

He also told police that he would shout out at the child when he saw her about the Fold, adding that her mother was with her at all times.

The prosecutor added: "He was not able to say how old she was, but believed her to be approximately five."

A contested hearing of the offence was due to take place yesterday.

But following the guilty plea District Judge Ken Nixon adjourned the case to have pre-sentence reports prepared.

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