A Co Antrim man who sexually assaulted a teenage girl as they watched the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings on television has been jailed for 18 months.
Hugh Morrow, 58, of Maralin Gardens, Lisburn, was told he will have to spend a further two years on probation following his release from prison.
He was found guilty by a jury at Belfast Crown Court in February of indecently assaulting the 13-year-old girl and also committing an act of gross indecency with the victim.
Prosecution lawyer Tessa Kitson told the court that the offences took place on July 7, 2005 at a house in Lisburn.
She said that Morrow was sitting watching television about the 7/7 bombings in London when the girl came in and “he asked her to sit down beside him on the sofa’’.
Ms Kitson said that while they were watching the television Morrow sexually assaulted her for several minutes.
The prosecutor said there were a number of aggravating factors including that she was young at the time and “there was a certain degree of planning’’ about the offences.
She added that despite being found guilty by the jury, Morrow “still denies the offences’’.
Defence QC Eilis McDermott said father-of-three Morrow suffered from a number of medical and mental conditions including heart problems and was taking 28 tablets a day.
She added that a pre-sentence report stated that because of his medicial problems “he would find prison a struggle’’ as he would not have access to the same medical provisions in jail.
Ms McDermott said Morrow was not assessed as posing a serious risk of serious harm to the public and was regarded as a medium risk of reoffending.
Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said one of the main aggravating factors in the case was the considerable age difference of 35 years between the victim and the defendant.
Judge Kerr said that “the appropriate sentence in all the circumstances is one of three-and-a-half years.’’
After Morrow agreed to a custody probation sentence, the judge said he would serve 18 months in custody followed by two years on probation.
Morrow was placed on the sex offenders register for a period of 10 years but Judge Kerr said that based on the facts of the case he was not making him the subject of a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order (SOPO) and was not placing the defendant on the barred list for young people and vulnerable adults.