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First crown court conviction for paying for sex almost nine years after law change

Omagh Courthouse. Photo: Kenneth Allen / Geograph

Plea change ahead of trial as Omagh man admits paying for sex and robbing two different women during incidents almost a year apart

A forty-seven-year-old County Tyrone man has become the first person to be convicted on indictment at crown court for paying for sexual services, almost nine years after the law was introduced.

Quentin Ewing – also known as Maguire – from Campsie Road, Omagh but currently remanded in custody faced two sets of charges committed a year apart and involving two female victims.

Having previously denied the charges along with a number of other offences, he changed his plea ahead of trial.

In order of occurrence, he was accused of paying for sexual services as well as robbing a woman of £80 on 7 August 2021.

Then on 8 August 2022, Ewing was alleged to have unlawfully and maliciously inflicted grievous bodily harm on a woman, threatened to kill her and robbed her of £600.

It was also alleged on the same date he paid for sexual services and resisted arrest.

In October last year his case was returned for trial at Dungannon Crown Court where Ewing denied all allegations.

However, with a trial date pending, defence counsel appearing before the most recent sitting requested Ewing to be re-arraigned

Standing in the dock wearing jeans and a grey sweatshirt, he pleaded guilty to both offences from the incident in 2021.

In respect of the other matters, he entered a plea to a lesser assault as opposed to inflicting grievous bodily harm on the second victim, which a prosecuting lawyer confirmed was acceptable.

Ewing also admitted paying this victim for sexual services and robbing her of £600 cash, as well as resisting arrest in the aftermath.

The charge of threatening to kill will be left on the court books.

Beyond the change in position, no details surrounding the circumstances of the offending were disclosed during the short hearing.

Defence counsel pointed out Ewing has been in custody for some time but felt pre-sentence reports would be beneficial.

Judge Fiona Bagnall agreed and adjourned sentencing until 18 April.

The Human Trafficking & Exploitation Act, which is exclusive to Northern Ireland, came into law in 2015, and among a number of articles within the statute, repealed the selling of sexual services and instead placed criminality on the purchaser.

To date all previous prosecutions of both paying and attempting to pay for sexual services were directed to be dealt with in magistrates courts where the penalties are less.

A person found guilty in summary jurisdiction (magistrates court) is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine, or both.

If conviction on indictment at crown court the term of imprisonment doubles to not exceeding one year or a fine, or both.

Penalties for other offences committed at the same time as paying for sexual services will also be factored into the overall global sentencing exercise.

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