Northern Ireland news

Sex offender who harassed dog walker in park is jailed for 12 months for licence breach

Laganside courthouse in Belfast

A CONVICTED sex offender who "finds it hard to function in the community" was handed a minimum 12-month jail term today for breaching a court order twice.

David Raymond Blaney, with an address on Belfast's Ormeau Road, will be the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) until 2023 due to previous offending.

Belfast Crown Court heard that last May, the 38-year old breached two elements of the SOPO by approaching a woman and talking to her as she walked her dog on the Lagan Towpath, and by drinking alcohol in public.

Prosecuting barrister Rosemary Walsh said that in April 2015, a SOPO was imposed on Blaney, but that this was breached twice on May 25, 2019.

Ms Walsh said that as a woman was walking her dog close to the Lock Keeper's Cottage car park, a male sitting on a bench started shouting at her. When she returned on the same path a short time later, the same male approached her from behind and said "you will be fit by now."

He then offered her a can of beer and started talking about her dog. He also saw two children in the area and asked the woman if they were hers. Ms Walsh said she ignored him and walked away, but noticed he walked over to bushes and continued shouting.

The woman "scared by his behaviour", contacted police who arrested him.

Ms Walsh said Blaney had a "large amount" of previous convictions for sexual offences including indecent assaults against women and indecent exposure.

Defence barrister Sean Mullan said his client was "yo-yoing" between prison and time in the community and revealed that Blaney "finds it very hard to function in the community", whereas in prison he had structure and a job.

Passing sentence, Judge David McFarland commended the dog-walker for her "robust" response.

He also noted it was Probation's assessment that there was a high likelihood of Blaney re-offending.

As well as prison he will spend an additional three years on licence on his release.

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