‘Prolific’ sex offender ‘spotted in Co Down coffee shop’

Court
Court

A “prolific” category one sex offender accused of flouting a ban on loitering in any cafes must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Monday.

David Douglas was refused bail amid claims he was spotted at a coffee shop in Bangor, before he had the chance to commit any new acts.

A defence lawyer argued that while the 59-year-old is a compulsive masturbator, he never exposes himself in public.

Douglas, of Park Drive in the town, is charged with breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Under the terms of the SOPO he is prohibited from spending time in cafes, food outlets or shopping centres likely to be frequented by children.

A Crown lawyer said the ban was imposed because Douglas has a habit of simulating a sex act with a bottle while sitting in coffee shops.

The court heard he was spotted in a cafe on Main Street on August 20, before exiting and being confronted by a probation officer.

Douglas then allegedly evaded police until he handed himself in at a PSNI station in Belfast eight days later.

Opposing bail, the prosecutor contended disclosed that Douglas has previous breaches of his SOPO.

Referring to Douglas’s suspected intentions, counsel added: “He was confronted very soon after he purchased his drink - he simply didn’t have an opportunity.”

Damien Halleron, defending, said his client simply panicked when he encountered the probation officer.

The barrister claimed Douglas’s previous offending was linked to an “inappropriate response” to coping with the stress of his father’s deteriorating health.

With the defendant’s father not expected to be released from hospital, Mr Justice McAlinden held the situation could lead to further offences.

Denying bail, the judge said: “It’s with a significant amount of regret because obviously this individual does require help, but there’s the issue of protecting the public.”