Perverted ex-RUC man avoids jail for flashing at children
A former police officer who exposed himself and touched his private parts in front of a woman and her two young daughters in a busy Belfast DIY store has been spared prison.
John Douglas Stanfield, who turns 84 next month, has an extensive criminal record for similar offences, and was in breach of a prior Sexual Offences Prevention Order at the time of the incident in Homebase last summer.
Belfast Crown Court heard Stanfield's latest offending - committing an act outraging public decency in the Galwally branch of the store - was "deliberately" carried out in front of two girls aged seven and eight.
The incident occurred last June, and was reported a few months later after the woman saw reports in the media about Stanfield's previous offending.
The pensioner, from Rosetta Road in east Belfast, was handed an 18-month jail term, which was suspended for two years by Judge David McFarland.
Prior to passing sentence, Judge McFarland was told that when the woman reported the matter to police she said she believed Stanfield was acting deliberately rather than doing it in an absent-minded manner.
When he was arrested in November 2016 and asked about the incident in Homebase, Stanfield said he couldn't remember.
When an officer pointed out that the allegation made by the woman matched the type of behaviour he indulged in, and when asked if he could have committed the offence, he said: "I probably did."
A barrister representing Stanfield said while his elderly client couldn't remember the incident, he had pleaded guilty.
Telling the court there was now a "realisation" by Stanfield that "he has an issue", the barrister said he had started attending church.
Defence counsel also revealed Stanfield suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of things he witnessed while working as an RUC reservist.
The barrister asked that Stanfield be spared jail due to his advancing years, health difficulties and the fact he was a carer for his wife.
Judge McFarland said he was taking into consideration the pensioner's age and his responsibilities to his wife as he handed Stanfield a suspended sentence.