Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland businessman said relationship with 15-year-old was 'extra-marital fun'

Prison term: Alan McBride
Prison term: Alan McBride

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Antrim businessman who embarked on a sexual relationship with a teenage girl for a "bit of extra-marital fun" has been sent to prison.

Alan David McBride (40), a father of two from Long Rig Road, Nutts Corner, was branded a "selfish self-centred man" who displayed very little empathy for his victim by Judge Geoffrey Miller QC, who handed him an 18-month sentence.

McBride - a car dealer - was told he will serve half his sentence in jail and the rest on licence after he pleaded guilty to meeting a child following sexual grooming, and five counts of inciting the girl to be involved in pornography.

The charges relate to a period between July and August 2013, when he and the teenager were involved in a relationship, with the latter charges related to images he asked her to send him.

The complainant - who was aged 15 and 16 at the time - attended the same church as McBride. In spring 2013, he began flirting with her and using sexual innuendos.

Crown prosecutor Neil Connor told Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that this flirtation progressed to text messages. McBride initially sent her images of women both in lingerie and naked, with comments such as: "I like women who dress up."

Mr Connor said the teenager was "somewhat flattered" by the attention and reciprocated with text messages to McBride. These messages - some of which were sent while she was 15 - included images of her naked.

McBride sent the teenager around 10 naked images of him and they exchanged what the Crown said were "graphic" texts.

In these messages, McBride told the girl he wanted to have sex with her, and set out what he wanted her to do to him, and what he wanted her to wear. They then met up in July 2013 "for the purpose of sex".

After she turned 16, she and McBride began a consensual sexual relationship, and they continued sending naked images to each other.

Mr Connor revealed the relationship continued for around five months - until McBride began a sexual relationship with one of her friends.

The complainant, now 21, went to police in June 2016 and McBride was subsequently arrested.

He told police he had been in a sexual relationship with the teenager, but said he believed she was 16.

He also branded their relationship "a bit of extra-marital fun".

Telling the judge there were "aggravating factors", Mr Connor spoke of the 20-year age gap between McBride and the teenager, and the grooming element which saw her sending him images of herself.

Defence barrister, Charles MacCreanor QC, said his client was "shamed and disgusted by what he has done". Pointing out that McBride came before the court with a clear record, Mr MacCreanor spoke of the impact the offending has had on McBride's domestic situation and also on his business as "people don't want to associate with him because of the nature of the allegations".

Judge Miller said that after reading a pre-sentence report, he felt McBride had displayed both "an apparent lack of empathy" for the complainant, and a "self-centred attitude."

The judge also cast doubt on McBride's claims he believed the girl was 16 when they began having sex, saying it was his belief McBride deliberately targeted someone "half his age" for his own "deviant sexual interests".

As well as being jailed, McBride was also made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.

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