Northern Ireland news

Former DUP mayor Ian Stevenson suspended from council duties for groping conviction

Former DUP councillor Ian Stevenson has been suspended from his local government duties

A DUP councillor who sexually assaulted a nursing colleague has been suspended from local government duties until May's elections.

Ian Stevenson (49), a former mayor of Ballymoney, was found guilty in December of deliberately squeezing a woman's breast at a care home before joking he would "grope anything."

The Causeway Coast and Glens councillor, who was suspended from the DUP after being charged with the offence, was sentenced to 220 hours community service.

At a hearing on Thursday in front of acting local government commissioner for standards Ian Gordon, it was found there was "prima facie evidence" that Stevenson's conviction had breached the councillors' code of conduct.

The chief executive of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council submitted a statement to the hearing in which it was claimed the former DUP mayor had brought both his position as a councillor and the local authority into disrepute.

Stevenson did not make any submissions to the hearing, which was told he expects his conviction to be overturned on appeal.

However, the acting commissioner said the potential outcome of any appeal was not material to a decision, which must be taken in accordance with the law.

An interim suspension was ordered until the end of Mr Stevenson's mandate on May 6 with a full adjudication hearing expected to take place a future date.

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