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Rapist who was ‘unlawfully at large’ jailed for three months

Defendant - placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life in 2015 - had left his registered address at a hostel in Portadown but handed himself in after some six months

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A rapist who was “unlawfully at large” for a period of six months has been sentenced to three months in prison.

Sentencing the 27-year-old, the district judge commented: “The requirements are there for a reason, taking into account what was a serious offence in the first place.”

James Taggart, whose address is given as Edward Street in Portadown, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with requirements as a sex offender at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, via videolink from Maghaberry.

The defendant failed to notify police of a change of address, he failed to notify about travel and he failed to make his annual report.

Prosecution told court that Taggart was placed on the Sex Offender’s Register for life in 2015.

It was outlined that on January 22, at 7.40pm, the defendant left his registered address at a hostel on Edward Street in Portadown and could not be located.

He failed to notify police of any change in his address and also failed to attend his annual notification.

Police reported at the time how Taggart had been “unlawfully at large” but after some six months handed himself in.

Defence barrister David McKeown described the case as having a “protracted history”. He explained how Taggart had difficulties in being released on parole but having found an address had “struggled” in a hostel environment.

He commented that the defendant had in essence “already been punished” for the offences before the court as he was placed back in custody.

Mr McKeown asked that his client was given credit for his early plea and the way in which he met the matter.

District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “The requirements are there for a reason, taking into account what was a serious offence in the first place.”

Taggart was sentenced to three months in prison for the offences before the court.

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