Probation for sex offender who ‘gratified his urges’ in restaurant

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A “category one sex offender” who “gratified his sexual urges” in a Belfast restaurant after staring at a nine-year-old girl has been placed on three years probation.

David Douglas was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) due to prior offending – but has breached the order a total of 13 times.

The latest breach occurred in the Belfast eatery on March 2 and resulted in him spending six months behind bars on remand.

The 59-year-old, from Park Drive in Bangor, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he admitted both the breach, and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

The court heard that while the youngster was probably aware of his presence as he sat at a table next to hers, she was unaware of his behaviour and what he was doing as she was colouring in at the time.

A Crown barrister said that as part of Douglas’s previous SOPO, he was banned from entering any fast food outlets where young people would be.

A barrister representing Douglas said his client was aware of his own difficulties and had sought voluntary treatment.

The barrister added: “His offending is unpleasant. However, he has never been convicted of any contact offence, and he has never exposed himself in public.”

Asking the judge to spare Douglas further jail time, the barrister said that if placed in probation, his client was willing to engage in whatever treatment is available to address his offending.

Acknowledging the jail time Douglas has already served on remand, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC made him the subject of a three-year probation order, and reset the terms of his SOPO, which will now run until 2026.

Douglas was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years, and was told by Judge Miller: “If you breach this order by failing to comply or breach the terms, or worse still if you commit a further offence ... you can expect nothing other than immediate custody.”