Sex offender beaten by 'vigilantes' in south Armagh is jailed for breaching licence

Alexis Guesto (left) and James White were the subject of a police manhunt when they were attacked in Mullaghbawn

ONE of two sex offenders tied up and beaten by 'vigilantes' in south Armagh earlier this year was back in court today for breaching the terms of his licence.

James White - described in court as a Category Two sex offender - appeared at Belfast Crown Court, where he admitted two breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

The 48-year old, whose address was given as Antrim Road in north Belfast, pleaded guilty to owning both a Samsung mobile and a Samsung tablet last October, without the prior approval of a designated risk manager.

He was handed a two-year sentence by Judge Geoffrey Miller, which will be divided between a year in prison, followed by a year on licence.

During today's sentencing, a barrister representing White said the breaches occurred when he "disengaged" with probation services, then went on the run.

She also revealed White has been in police custody following an incident in April involving her client and a second man, Alexis Guesto, where the pair were "subjected to a savage attack, tied up and beaten... which appeared on social media."

Crown prosecutor Gareth Purvis said White's breaches came to light last October, when police carried out a search of his hostel accommodation.

During the search, a tablet and mobile phone were seized and later analysed.

Despite White calling a woman, and accessing the internet searching for dogs and houses, the devices were not used for any activity deemed criminal.

It was, however, a breach of the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, and he later left the hostel without permission in February this year.

Mr Purvis said: "He was at large in the south, then made this way to the north. He was found with another sex offender in the south Armagh area in April."

The court heard White had 47 previous convictions on both sides of the border which included sexual offences against "males, females and children", with his last sexual offence against a child committed back in 1994.

It also emerged he was made the subject of a SOPO at Dungannon Crown Court last March, but he breached this last October by owning the Samsung mobile and tablet.

Defence barrister Leona Gillen said her client accepted he had the devices but said "there is nothing to suggest they were used for nerfarious purposes", adding the offending was at the lower end of the scale.

She also said it was White himself who alerted probation that he had them, and that when arrested he co-operated with police.

Telling the court White was "contrite" and "acknowledges he had done wrong", Ms Gillen said he had "spent a successful period in the community" between his release from custody last year, and going on the run in February.

Footage posted on social media showed the pair tied up and covered in paint on a bench in the village of Mullaghbawn in south Armagh. Picture from Facebook

Regarding the incident in south Armagh, which led to White's arrest, Ms Gillen said: "No matter what someone thinks of the offences Mr White has committed, nobody deserves that level of violence and to be treated in this way."

In handing down the sentence Judge Miller also spoke of how White came to be arrested in April and said: "It is not for vigilantes and so-called paedophile hunters to take the law into their own hands."

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