Tyrone paedophile Hughes contacted girl online despite internet ban
A paedophile with an "appalling" record of preying on children was handed a prison sentence after he admitted breaching a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) over a seven-month period.
However, he walked free from Dungannon Magistrates Court after the case was heard, as his two-month sentence had already been served on remand.
Cathal Francis Hughes (61), of Beechvalley, Dungannon, was placed under a five-year SOPO in 2014 following conviction for multiple offences.
While the case was pending, Hughes was on bail and banned from having any internet-capable device.
But a mobile police patrol detected him late on October 8, 2014 leaving his home "cradling" a dark plastic bag.
On being stopped he appeared nervous and became further agitated when asked what was in the plastic bag, the court heard.
It transpired to be a laptop computer, and a later search of his home found more electronic devices. Bail was revoked and Hughes was remanded in custody until the original case was dealt with at Dungannon Crown Court in December 2014.
Meanwhile, police carried out in-depth analysis of the devices. These showed chat-logs with girls aged 10-14 which were highly sexualised in content.
It was when officers were carrying out a follow-up visit with Hughes on these matters that they discovered he had breached the SOPO.
He was arrested and told police that from around September 1, 2015 until the time of his arrest on March 21, 2016, he had been in contact with a girl from the original investigation.
District Judge John Meehan said: "The court has the deepest level of concern when a person breaches terms, especially with a record as appalling as the defendant's for preying on young children. Any dereliction of the order should be treated very seriously."