Offender engaged in 'sexual activity' in front of girl (9)
A Category One sex offender who "gratified his sexual urges" in a Belfast restaurant after staring at a nine-year-old girl has been placed on probation for three years.
David Douglas has a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), due to prior offending, which he has breached a total of 13 times. The latest breach occurred in the eatery on March 2 this year and resulted in him spending six months behind bars on remand.
The 59-year-old, from Park Drive in Bangor, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he admitted both the breach and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
The court heard that while the youngster was probably aware of his presence as he sat at a table next to her table, she was unaware of his behaviour and what he was doing as she was colouring in at the time.
A Crown barrister said that as part of Douglas's previous SOPO, he was banned from entering any fast food outlets where young people would be.
Despite this, on the evening in question Douglas sat at a table next to where the youngster was with her grandmother and two other men. The Crown barrister said one of the men noticed a man sitting at the next table appeared to be touching himself while staring at the girl.
When the girl's grandmother was alerted, she looked up and saw Douglas "moving his hand in his pocket repeatedly... for about a minute".
It emerged Douglas had a "clear view" of the child and when asked what he was doing, he initially turned away but then stared again at the child.
The party of four moved tables and Douglas left the restaurant shortly afterwards.
The girl's grandmother then spoke to staff, CCTV footage was viewed and despite the incident itself not being captured, Douglas was soon identified as the perpetrator.
Revealing Douglas is a "Category One sex offender", the prosecutor said that, when arrested and interviewed, he admitted breaching a term of his SOPO.
He told officers that prior to going to the restaurant he had drunk a half bottle of vodka.
He also told police that after spotting the youngster in the restaurant, he "was thinking of things of a sexual nature as he looked at her", with the resulting sexual activity amounting to satisfying his urges.
Pointing out this was Douglas's 13th breach of a SOPO, the prosecutor said that despite undergoing various treatments such as counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy, as well as periods in prison, Douglas continues to offend.
A barrister representing Douglas said his client was aware of his own difficulties and had sought voluntary treatment.
The barrister added: "His offending is unpleasant. However, he had never been convicted of any contact offence and he has never exposed himself in public."
Acknowledging the jail time Douglas has already served on remand, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC made him the subject of a three-year probation order and re-set the terms of his SOPO, which will now run until 2026.
Douglas was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years and was told by Judge Miller: "If you breach this order by failing to comply or breach the terms, or worse still if do you commit a further offence... you can expect nothing other than immediate custody."