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Court rules out Sexual Offences Prevention Order for man who sexually assaulted 13-year-old girl

Court heard he had served equivalent of six months on remand and was 'assessed as having a low risk of reoffending'

Armagh Courthouse

A Loughgall man who touched the bottom of a 13-year-old girl in a shop has been sentenced to a two-year probation order.

Court previously 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, pleaded guilty to 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.

On Tuesday, the author of the presentence report attended court to answer questions regarding the imposition of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

District Judge Brian Archer stated: “The one issue I have is that in the original report it was said that he had a low risk of reoffending but a SOPO was sought.

“He has already spent the maximum sentence on remand; given that he has agreed to probation and is on the register, I do not know if it is necessary.”

The prosecution officer said: “Whilst I agree with the probation order, the SOPO gives a back up if there are concerns regarding future behaviour.”

District Judge Archer commented that a SOPO could be applied for by police if something were to change.

He said: “I am not minded to impose a SOPO as a way of managing risk. He has been assessed as having a low risk of reoffending.”

District Judge Archer stated: “Your behaviour was reprehensible but you have served the equivalent of six months, the maximum penalty for this offence, which you will be given credit for.”

Rowe was sentenced to complete a two-year probation order.

A SOPO was not imposed but the district judge commented that if there was a concern regarding the defendant’s behaviour one could be applied for by the police.

In addition, Rowe was placed on the sexual offenders register for five years.

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