Ex-SDLP councillor to appeal jail sentence for sexually assaulting teenager

Brian Duffin at Antrim Magistrates Court.'''Photo by Pacemaker Press
Brian Duffin at Antrim Magistrates Court.'''Photo by Pacemaker Press

A former SDLP councillor convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl and sentenced to four months in jail has been bailed to appeal.

At Antrim Magistrates Court today, Brian Duffin, from Cargin Road in Toomebridge, was told he must serve four months in prison for sexually assaulting the 17-year-old in her own home on June 15, 2016.

However, the judge later freed Duffin on £500 bail pending an appeal against the conviction and sentence.

At an earlier hearing, the 73-year-old father-of-11 and grandfather-of-19 had denied sticking his tongue into the girl’s mouth and touching her in a sexual manner without her consent. However, he was found guilty of the offence.

In addition to the four-month jail sentence, the judge imposed a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and ordered that Duffin be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for a period of seven years.

He was also ordered to pay a £25 offender levy.

Duffin, who resigned from the SDLP after he was initially charged, has continued to serve as an independent councillor on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Asked about Cllr Duffin’s future as an elected representative given the outcome of today’s court proceedings, a spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “The council is currently taking advice on the matter.”

The News Letter contacted a number of his council colleagues, but none of them wanted to make any comment about the case.

“We wouldn’t want to make any comment until all the legal process has been exhausted,” DUP group leader Phillip Brett said.