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Armagh man convicted of sexually assaulting woman to appeal prison sentence

He had previously been convicted of sexually assaulting a female after being invited to her home to cut grass and while her children sat in the next room

Armagh Courthouse

An Armagh man who was convicted of sexually assaulting a female after being invited to her home to cut grass is to appeal against a three month prison sentence imposed.

The district judge commented that although the 57-year-old’s barrister was “at a loss” to explain the behaviour, she questioned why the injured party would “put herself through the ordeal” of speaking in court.

Anthony Daniel Parkes, of Drumarg Park, appeared for sentencing on a single charge of sexual assault on June 20, of 2019, at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

At contest, the injured party outlined that she had been at home with her two children when the defendant attended her property.

The injured party explained that she had arranged for Parkes to cut her grass through a friend, and told the court she had not known him previously.

Thirty minutes after his arrival, the injured party stated that Parkes had knocked on the door of her home as it had started raining.

She said that she invited the defendant in for a cup of tea, to see if the rain would ease up and he could finish cutting the grass.

Whilst making the tea in the kitchen, the injured party described to court how Parkes had “squeezed” her behind and remarking, “you’ve got a nice bum”.

She claimed to have told the defendant at this point to stop, however, he then proceeded to cup her vagina and press his genitals against her bottom.

When questioned by the prosecution, the injured party stated that all of the touching had been above the clothing.

Following this, the injured party described “laughing off” the incident and backing away as she felt trapped.

The victim then went on to point out to Parkes that neighbours could see them through the kitchen window, to which he replied “f*** the neighbours”.

The injured party stated that the defendant then placed her hand on his penis, over the clothes, telling her “feel how hard I am”.

At this point, the victim stated that her daughter entered the kitchen and she went back to making tea.

After she left, Parkes came up behind the injured party once more, cupping her breasts. She questioned what he was doing before suggesting moving into the living room, where her two daughters were.

Whilst making her way there, the injured party described how Parkes had pulled at her underwear.

She described to the court “wanting to get away” and how in her head she did not believe the defendant would do anything in the presence of her children.

She added: “It was a blur, I couldn’t really understand what was going on…….I felt like a piece of meat, like I wasn’t a human being.”

Following some conversation, the injured party’s partner returned home and said hello before making his way to the kitchen.

She escorted the defendant to the front door, where he suggested them “showering together” the following day, if the children were at school.

The injured party stated that her partner had gone outside to confront Parkes after her daughters stated to him what they had seen.

She stated that between 90 minutes and two hours later she made contact with police regarding the incident, however, prosecution pointed out no complaint was made until June 24.

Addressing the court on Tuesday, District Judge Bernie Kelly stated that she had the opportunity to read references for the defence, the pre-sentence report and the victim impact statement in the case.

Defence barrister Patrick Taggart commented that although Parkes was entitled to maintain his innocence, no credit could be afforded to him in sentencing.

He stated that it was accepted that this was a “very serious offence” but pointed to probation not recommending a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and assessing his client as having a “low likelihood of reoffending”.

Mr Taggart said that he was “at a loss to explain how such behaviour occurred”, and commented that Parkes previously had an “unblemished character” but now his reputation was “marred”.

District Judge Kelly stated: “Mr Parkes, you face a very serious offence and I accept that you come before the court with no previous record….a man of previously good character and all of the references speak to that.

“Sentencing has two main functions, the rehabilitation of the offender and the protection of the public….but there is another element, to reinforce the disapproval of certain types of behaviour.”

She continued: “The sexual assault of a female by a male is wholly unacceptable. There are no circumstances whereby that is acceptable.”

The judge commented that although Parkes’ barrister was “at a loss” to explain the behaviour, she questioned why the injured party would “put herself through the ordeal” of speaking in court.

The defendant was sentenced to four months in prison and was placed on the sex offenders’ register, and a restraining order was also put in place for a period of two years.

Mr Taggart informed the court of his client’s wish to appeal the sentence. Parkes was granted his own bail of £500 in order to do this, with a condition to have no contact with the injured party or any prosecution witness.

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