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Pervert pensioner 'touched himself in front of children'

By Paul Higgins

Published 13/01/2016

Pensioner John Douglas Stanfield leaving Ards court where he was charged with indecent behaviour in supermarkets.
Pensioner John Douglas Stanfield leaving Ards court where he was charged with indecent behaviour in supermarkets.

A convicted sex offender accused of acting indecently towards children in two supermarkets has been granted bail despite police objections.

At Newtownards Magistrates Court, John Douglas Stanfield (82) confirmed that he understood the 16 charges against him.

Stanfield, from Rosetta Road, east Belfast, is accused of six charges of breaching his sexual offences prevention order (SOPO), six of engaging in sexual acts in the presence of children, three of indecent behaviour and one of failing to comply with the sex offenders' register.

All are alleged to have occurred in February, March, November and December last year.

Giving evidence to the court, a detective constable said she believed she could connect Stanfield to each of the charges.

A prosecuting lawyer said although it was an "unusual application", given that Stanfield was released on police bail after he was initially charged, the PPS was asking for the pensioner to be remanded into custody.

The detective described how police were called to a supermarket at the Forestside shopping centre in Belfast on December 10 last year following reports of Stanfield "touching himself in front of children" in an incident captured on CCTV.

Police seized and watched the footage and Stanfield was arrested at his home. The officer revealed that enquiries uncovered two similar but earlier incidents in the same shop.

All three incidents had been recorded on security cameras and the officer described how Stanfield could be seen "actively seeking out children in the aisles" before acting indecently in their presence.

District judge Mark Hamill asked if Stanfield exposed himself while engaging in the alleged activity or if he spoke to or touched the children, but the officer said:"It's over his clothing He doesn't talk to them and he didn't touch them but his behaviour is concerning."

Arrested and interviewed, Stanfield was shown footage from each incident but each time his explanation "was that he was scratching his psoriasis".

Defence solicitor Hugh Edgar told the court there was "medical evidence" about Stanfield's condition, submitting that the pensioner should be released again, given that he was freed on police bail in the first place.

Releasing Stanfield on his own bail of £500, judge Hamill barred the pensioner from entering any supermarket or its car park and from having contact with children. He warned that the prosecution did not "contemplate for a moment prosecuting this in the magistrates" and said a "bad character application is staring you in the face".

Stanfield was ordered to come back to court on February 9 and was warned that any breach of his bail or SOPO would mean that "he would go back into custody".

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