Belfast Telegraph

Derry child abductor Christopher Harley who broke court order by contacting girl is jailed

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said Harley had a plethora of orders and of previous convictions (stock photo)
Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said Harley had a plethora of orders and of previous convictions (stock photo)

By George Jackson

A 32-year-old man from Londonderry who has previously been convicted of abducting four young girls was jailed yesterday for 18 months for defying a court order by contacting one of the girls he had abducted.

Christopher Harley, who is originally from the Hazelbank area of the city but whose address was given as care of Maghaberry Prison, where he's been in custody for the last 261 days, pleaded guilty to breaching a court imposed Restraining Order by exchanging messages with the 15-year-old girl via Facebook.

Harley admitted making contact with the girl between January 26 and February 1 of this year by using the mobile phone of another man who shared his then residential care address in Newtownstewart.

When he returned the mobile phone to its owner, the man discovered that it was still logged on to Facebook.

When he read the Facebook messages he immediately contacted the police and Harley was arrested.

Harley, who had 29 previous criminal convictions, also had several child abduction warning notices served on him following his previous abduction convictions.

He was also served on January 10 of this year with an interim Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) which is to be reviewed in January.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told Judge Philip Babington that the girl Harley admitted contacting in breach of the Restraining Order "is a child at risk of sexual exploitation and still considered to be vulnerable".

He said that one of the conditions of the interim SOPO was that Harley was not to be in the company of females under the age of 18.

The author of a pre-sentence report stated that Harley had been assessed as being a high likelihood re-offender who had shown no remorse for his offending.

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said Harley had a plethora of orders and of previous convictions.

He said the messages Harley sent to the girl were mainly questions.

He said the girl, in one of her replies, sent Harley a photograph of a child which was not her child but which she said she had given birth to and told Harley that he was the child's father.

Mr Mooney said the messages Harley sent to the girl were not intimidating nor were they harassing nor pestering and he said Harley sent them at a time when he was abusing drugs and alcohol.

Judge Babington at Londonderry Crown Court said it was disturbing that Harley had been assessed as a high likely re-offender and it was also disturbing that he had shown no remorse for his offending.

"The difficulty the court and society has is you appear to have been involved in similar type of contact involving young girls for four to five years," he said.

Imposing an 18-month jail sentence, Judge Babington warned Harley that if he continued to offend in a similar fashion, he would be spending a lot of time in prison in the future.

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