Belfast Telegraph

Complaint made to watchdog over DUP councillor convicted of sexual assault

A complaint has been made to the local government standards watchdog about a DUP councillor who squeezed a woman's breast at a care home before joking he would "grope anything".

Ian Stevenson, a 49-year-old nurse from Headlands Avenue in Ballymoney, and a previous mayor of the town, will be sentenced later this month after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a nursing colleague.

Mr Stevenson is a serving councillor on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. He has been suspended by his party.

The Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards has confirmed it has received a complaint and it was now "being assessed."

A DUP spokesperson said: "Cllr Stevenson's party membership was suspended in April pending the outcome of the court case.

"The suspension remains in place. Party officers will consider the judgement in due course."

Belfast Magistrates Court heard Mr Stevenson asked for a hug while talking to the woman in a corridor in April 2017.

She claimed that after raising her arms Stevenson grabbed her breast.

During the trial she described responding by pushing him away and telling him "no", adding that the encounter left her shocked and frightened.

"He just basically tried to laugh it off and made the joke: 'You know me, I would grope anything... well, not anything'," the woman claimed.

The court was told she later sent Stevenson a Facebook message expressing her "disgust" at what happened.

Mr Stevenson claimed in court that at no time did he grab or touch her breast, claiming it was the woman who offered him a hug when he told her he was going to lay a wreath on a friend's grave.

District Judge Amanda Henderson said she found the injured party to be credible in her testimoney.

She said Stevenson had failed to provide an explanation for why the woman would fabricate the incident after they had previously been on good terms.

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