Belfast Telegraph

Ex-RUC man (85) who exposed himself to children jailed

John Douglas Stanfield at a previous court appearance
John Douglas Stanfield at a previous court appearance

By Alan Erwin

An 85-year-old former RUC reservist who committed acts outraging public decency in the presence of children must serve a year in prison, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Senior judges held that the suspended sentence originally imposed on John Douglas Stanfield for offences on two separate occasions at a garden centre was unduly lenient.

They ordered the pensioner, who has a history of exposing and touching himself in public, to be taken directly into custody.

Stanfield, of Rosetta Road in Belfast, will also spend a further two years on licence following his release.

The court heard he committed the latest offences at a garden centre in the east of the city on dates in February and March last year.

On both occasions he went into the cafe and rubbed his crotch area while children were nearby.

He admitted two counts of committing an act outraging public decency and two breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Stanfield's previous convictions included exposing himself in front of a mother and her two daughters at a Homebase store in Belfast.

Reference was also made to an earlier alleged exposure to children and engaging in a sexual act on Castlerock beach, Co Londonderry.

The Public Prosecution Service referred the case back to the Court of Appeal after Stanfield was handed a 12-month suspended jail term in March for the latest offences.

Lawyers for the PPS argued that the sentence imposed was unduly lenient.

Stanfield's barrister, Frank O'Donoghue QC, countered that it would be wrong to send a man of his age to prison.

Submitting that the trial judge had decided to give his client one last chance, counsel added: "It actually may be that the message is finally getting through after all these years."

But appeal judges stressed the need to ensure public confidence in the administration of justice.

Lord Justice Treacy asked: "What message would it send out if somebody with this catalogue of offending, having been treated very leniently by the courts, then comes before the Court of Appeal and we were to stand over the suspended sentences given in this case?"

Following deliberation the three judges confirmed their backing for the PPS case.

"We have come to the clear view the sentence imposed was unduly lenient," Lord Justice Stephens said.

A new three-year term was imposed, split between 12 months behind bars and two years on licence to complete a sex offenders' course.

With prison guards waiting beside Stanfield in the courtroom, Lord Justice Stephens directed: "The respondent will now be taken into custody."

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