Northern Ireland news

Co Armagh man loses 'pay for sex' conviction appeal

James Maloney, from Drumarg Villas in Armagh, challenged his conviction and three-month prison sentence

AN Armagh man who was the first person in Northern Ireland to be jailed for trying to pay for sexual services has lost his appeal against his conviction.

James Maloney (23) of Drumarg Villas challenged his conviction and three-month prison sentence after he was found guilty of attempting to pay for sex in an incident in Dungannon in 2016.

District Judge John Meehan said at the time of his trial "this is the first prosecution of its kind in Northern Ireland".

"This was a man who deliberately targeted an isolated woman in a predatory fashion, by virtue of the fact she was a woman," he said.

Maloney was sentenced to three months imprisonment and ordered to pay £500 compensation to the victim.

But defence lawyers launched an appeal, which was heard this week at Omagh county court.

The court had heard Maloney pulled up in his Audi A3 beside a cleaner at a petrol station in Dungannon and showed her a roll of money while making a sexualised gesture

He drove off, but returned a few minutes later and repeated the same gesture.

After a while, he again returned and although he didn't approach, stared directly at the victim, which frightened her.

Police seized CCTV footage and from this identified Maloney by his car registration.

He refused to answer any questions during police interview and declined to give evidence at both his trial and appeal.

Delivering his findings yesterday, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said there was "overwhelming evidence against the defendant".

"He failed to testify as any account would not withstand scrutiny. Accordingly I affirm the conviction."

He was released on bail to be re-sentenced next month.

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