Belfast Telegraph

Missing convicted sex offender located in England after 'four-day police hunt'

By Alan Erwin

A convicted sex offender who left Northern Ireland without informing the relevant authorities may have been trying to "go under the radar", a court has heard.

Colin Moffatt, 68, was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for quitting his approved hostel accommodation.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard his disappearance sparked a four-day police hunt before he was located in England.

Moffatt, currently of no fixed abode, was convicted of breaching the terms of his Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

He had been prohibited from living at any other accommodation unless approved by his designated risk manager.

But in April this year he left the Centenary House hostel in Belfast and boarded a flight to Manchester.

Prosecution counsel Stephanie Boyd said: "From April 30 to May 3 police here in Northern Ireland conducted a missing person inquiry to locate him, given the nature of his previous offending and concerns about him as a vulnerable person.

"He was eventually located, though officers had to go to Leeds and bring him home."

No further details were disclosed of the offence which led to the SOPO being imposed.

Defence counsel argued that Moffatt has health issues and other frailties.

She added that he left the hostel amid security concerns and frustrations at failing to secure alternative accommodation.

But District Judge Fiona rejected any suggestion Moffatt had misunderstood the terms of the SOPO.

"This is a bad enough situation," she said.

"I may be misreading it, but this has the flavour of somebody who has deliberately gone under the radar, and that's very concerning given the nature of the issues we are trying to manage."

Suspending the three-month sentence for a year, Judge Bagnall warned: "If he's back again he's in custody."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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