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Man who touched 13-year-old girl must wait to see if Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed

Case due back in April when new date for sentencing will be established

Armagh Magistrates' Court

A Loughgall man who touched the bottom of a 13-year-old girl in a shop must wait to find out if a Sexual Offences Prevention Order will be put in place.

Court heard the 58-year-old told probation that he was attracted to this young girl and tried to justify this by referring to her height.

Thomas Ronald Rowe, of Orchard Park, appeared for sentencing on the charge of sexual assault at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Court previously heard that on July 25, police were contacted by a man who stated his young daughter had been touched inappropriately by a male in a Co Armagh store the previous day.

Officers watched CCTV footage which showed the defendant reach out his hand and brush his fingers over the girl’s bottom at around 11.50am.

When interviewed about the incident, Rowe denied the offence claiming that it had been an accident.

The matter had previously been adjourned for probation to assess the defendant’s mother’s house as an appropriate address and for the prosecution to consider a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

On Tuesday, court heard that the address had been approved by probation and that an updated report had been provided.

District Judge Brian Archer stated: “What concerns me is that in the previous pre-sentence report he tried to justify his actions by making reference to the injured party’s physical features.”

Defence barrister Seamus Lannon said: “He has served the maximum period of custody for this offence and there are concerns over the SOPO.”

District Judge Archer commented: “Even if the injured party was an adult this would still be a criminal offence.”

Mr Lannon stated: “It is believed that with family support and probation as a safeguard a SOPO will not be required.

“His family understand the dangers, I feel it would serve society best if the address was approved and he underwent supervision.”

Prosecution said that the SOPO had been drafted “on the basis that it may be needed” and that its imposition was down to the risk outlined in the pre-sentence report.

District Judge Archer stated: “I may need to hear from the author of the pre-sentence report, this is not the sort of order to made on a hoof.”

He said: “My concern is that he tried to undermine the offence by claiming that he didn’t know what age she was.

“Then he also tried to claim it was accidental but CCTV showed that it was, in fact, a deliberate act.”

The case will return on April 2 when a new date for sentencing will be established with the author of the pre-sentence report to be in attendance.

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