Man who sexually assaulted vulnerable teen spared jail

Court
Court

A 29-year-old Belfast man who sexually assaulted a teenager and then took her to police after he discovered she was a vulnerable person has been freed on a two-year suspended jail term.

Judge Stephen Fowler told Ciaran McMurray while the custody threshold was met, considering the context in which the offence occured, and afterwards taking the girl directly to the police, it was a case where he could suspend the term.

McMurray, from Rugby Avenue, Belfast, who admitted sexual assault, was also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years, banned from working with children and vulnerable adults, and from contacting his victim.

Prosecuting QC Jackie Orr had told a previous hearing of Belfast Crown Court that on January 25, 2013, McMurray was approached by the teenager, whom he did not know, to buy her alcohol.

The lawyer added that the pair spent some time together during which there was some consensual touching.

Ms Orr said that later McMurray touched the girl again, but stopped when she objected.

However, she also revealed something about her situation and realising she was a vulnerable individual McMurray took her immediately to the nearest police station.

Defence QC Richard Greene said McMurray deserved credit for his guilty plea which was accepted as being of considerable ease to his victim.

McMurray, he added, was initially not aware, nor could he have been aware, of the girl’s vulnerabilities, but when he did, he organised a taxi and “did a very commendable thing by taking her to police”.

However, Mr Greene said it was a “challenging and difficult case”, but later added McMurray’s action of putting her in a taxi “can’t be divorced ... from what happened beforehand”.