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Suspended sentence for pensioner who assaulted girl (8)

PENSIONER who admitted sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in an Asda supermarket walked free from court yesterday with a three-month suspended sentence.

At Craigavon Magistrates Court District Judge Mervyn Bates told Robert McComb (71) that despite his last minute guilty plea: "I'm concerned about the lack of remorse and the lack of acceptance."

Minutes before his victim was due to give evidence, McComb, from Daisy Hill Court in Banbridge, admitted sexual assault on July 25 last year.

A prosecution lawyer told the court that a week after the incident, the girl's mother told police how her young daughter had been sexually assaulted in the middle of Asda in Portadown and the schoolgirl herself said a man had "slapped her bottom".

The little girl gave police a description and after she pointed him out on CCTV footage, officers arrested McComb last September. During police questioning McComb denied touching the girl inappropriately.

That claim, however, was not accepted by the prosecution whose lawyer said "that's certainly not how it appeared on the footage".

The pensioner's defence barrister said that although he has a clear criminal record, McComb has a previous police caution for a similar offence in December 2012 and that given his guilty plea "he will leave this court with a permanent stain on his record".

The lawyer submitted that a period on probation would "help him going forward and help the public".

McComb had his three-month jail term suspended for three years and was ordered to pay his victim £750 in compensation.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for seven years and had a Sex Offences Prevention Order imposed for five years barring him from having unsupervised contact with children.

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