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Portadown sex offender (27) jailed for six months for breaching SOPO terms


Dale Walsh

Dale Walsh

Dale Walsh

A convicted sex offender was today jailed for six months for breaching the terms of his Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

Dale Walsh (27), of Edward Street, Portadown, Co Armagh, was told he would spend a further six months on supervised licence following his release from prison.

Walsh had previously pleaded guilty to breaching his SOPO by possessing an internet enabled device, using the social media platform Facebook and failing to notify police of a change in his name.

Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that Walsh was convicted last year of an offence of harassing a female.

Prosecution lawyer Nicola Aurett said that on October 23, 2021, police received a call from the family of the harassment victim that “friends of hers had been sent friend requests on Facebook from the profile of a male called Ross Hill”.

Police checked the profile and confirmed that the Facebook image was a recent picture of Dale Walsh who was known to the Public Protection Team.

“A number of messages had been sent over Facebook and it was clear that this defendant was using social media without permission and using this alias 'Ross Hill' without notifying police,” said Ms Aurett.

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Judge Roseanne McCormick QC heard that police went to a hostel where Walsh was living in Portadown. Officers observed that Walsh had a “mobile phone in his hoodie pocket and another in his trouser pocket”.

“He was asked to empty his pockets, but he became irate and smashed a mobile phone onto the ground which was his approved device,” said the prosecutor.

“The other device was a Samsung smart phone which he had no approval to possess under the terms of his SOPO.”

The court heard that Walsh told the Probation Service that he had a second phone so he could contact a female he was in a relationship with.

Ms Auret said Walsh had 10 previous breaches of his SOPO and one attempted breach.

Walsh was jailed in 2018 for abducting a 14-year-old girl and for engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey said a pre-sentence report compiled on Walsh by the Probation Service “painted a relatively positive picture” compared to previous reports.

“This time Walsh has made the most of his period in custody and has got himself enhanced prisoner status for the first time,” said Mr McConkey.

“He is engaging with probation and the Prison Service which he has never done before. There is now a level of maturity in him which we have not seen before.

“He knows that if he slips up in any shape or form, he is going straight back into prison. This has been a wakeup call to him. He knows that if goes back into prison the sentences are going to get longer and longer,” added Mr McConkey.

Judge McCormick said that almost all of Walsh's criminal convictions were for breaching court orders.

She said it was clear Walsh had acted in a “premeditated way by setting up the Facebook account with a name which was not his own”.

Judge McCormick added: “There was a certain inevitability about his offending coming to light and it was as night follows day he would be returned to custody. He took calculated steps in breaching his SOPO.”

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