Family and friends of a youngster sexually abused by a would-be Belfast actor clapped after he was sentenced to a total of three years by the city's Crown Court today.
Harold Thomas Dickson who's appeared in a TV advert and walk-on part in a local BBC comedy show, was also put on the Sex Offenders' Register for an indefinite period and made subject to a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
The unrepentant 60-year-old with an address in Breezemount Avenue, Conlig, was convicted last month of all but two of ten charges of the sex abuse of a nine-year-old girl when he was in his 50's. The charges included engaging in a sex act in presence of a child, inciting a child and attempted sexual assault.
Ordering he serve 18 months prison followed by a similar period on supervised parole, Judge Donna McColgan QC told Dickson his culpability was high and victim impact reports indicated the child may require psychological support and counselling.
On the other hand, his pre-sentence report from probation was of limited assistance to the court as he continued to deny the offences despite his convictions by a jury.
In written submissions by prosecution QC Neil Connor and Kate McKay it emerged that Dickson in essence engaged in "inappropriate sexual activity with the child" on a number of occasions.
Judge McColgan said having reviewed and considered all submissions including those of defence QC John Orr and Mark Farrell she found there were a number of aggravating features in the case. They included Dickson's specific targeting of a vulnerable child, the significant disparity in their ages, abuse of trust and grooming coupled with veiled threats if abuse was exposed.
"The only mitigating feature is his lack of a relevant record," she added.
Dickson, who appeared for sentence via a video link from Maghaberry prison, was also warned that in future, in addition to the other court orders, he may appear on the barring list banning him from working with children and vulnerable adults.