Man avoids jail after slapping two women on their bottoms
A man has been placed on the sex offenders register for five years for slapping a pregnant woman and her mother on their bottoms as they walked along a street in Larne.
Peter Little (48), of the Haven Christian Centre, Rickamore Road Upper in Templepatrick, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court for sentencing on two charges of sexual assault and one of common assault.
The sexual assault charges relate to the same date in September 2016 when Little "intentionally touched" the two women. The common assault charge related to the mother.
In February, Little pleaded guilty to common assault but had entered not guilty pleas to sexual assault.
He was convicted of the two sexual assault charges in March.
A prosecutor said yesterday that on September 13, 2016, a pregnant woman and her mother were approached by Little at Main Street in Larne. The defendant, who was unknown to them, was "aggressive and sexually explicit towards the pair".
Little slapped both women on their bottoms and then asked the mother to give him a "high five and a kiss". During this exchange the mother feared she was going to be assaulted.
A defence lawyer said the defendant's actions were "absolutely disgraceful".
The lawyer said Little was drunk at the time and when he has consumed alcohol he "behaves in a boorish manner".
At the time of the offences, the lawyer said Little had been staying at a hostel and on that day was "on the drink".
He said Little has been off alcohol for over a year and had been conducting himself "in an exemplary way" at the Haven Centre and had made "genuine progress".
District Judge Nigel Broderick said police had taken the view that a sexual offences prevention order was not required.
The defence lawyer argued the incident was just "drunken, loutish behaviour".
However the judge said the offences were "at the higher end of the scale".
Ordering Little to do 200 hours of unpaid work and putting him on the sex offenders register for five years, the judge told the defendant: "This was utterly disgraceful behaviour. Drunkenness is no excuse.
"This would normally attract a custodial sentence," he added.
The judge also said he had acknowledged that Little appeared to have addressed his alcohol problems since the incident occurred.