Northern Ireland news

Convicted paedophile Ciaran McAuley sexually assaulted victim 'within hours' of being released from custody

Paedophile Ciaran McAuley sexually assaulted a teenager `within hours' of being released from custody to stay in a a supervised hostel close to the site of the vicious attack. Picture by Andersonstown News

CALLS have been made for more to be done to manage repeat sex offenders after convicted paedophile Ciaran McAuley sexually assaulted a teenager within hours of being released from custody.

Detective Chief Superintendent Anthony McNally told the Irish News that "all reasonable precautions were taken to manage the risk that he presented".

South Belfast MLA Clare Bailey however said last night that "on the evidence of this case, more needs to be done to manage repeat sexual offenders".

McAuley had only just reported to Dismas House on Ormeau Road which offers 14 beds to recently-released offenders who are subject to supervision under licences or other restrictions.

Operators Extern indicated the 32-year-old will not be offered a place again when he is finally released from prison following the latest conviction.

His victim, a 14-year old boy, was walking along the populous south Belfast arterial route in his school uniform and listening to music on earphones when he was grabbed and pulled down an alleyway.

McAuley threatened the crying and hyperventilating teenager into silence and forced sexual activity, afterwards threatening to kill him if he told anyone what happened.

After police were alerted officers went straight to the nearby hostel.

Det ch supt McNally, who is Chair of the PPANI [Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland] Strategic Management Board, said the crime was "completely despicable and a terrifying ordeal for the victim" and paid tribute "to both the victim and his family".

He said when McAuley was released from prison in June 2019 "he was not under statutory licence or supervision" although subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and Notification Requirements.

"He was assessed under the public protection arrangements and therefore his risk was managed on a multi-agency basis by the co-located public protection team.

"This heinous offence took place within hours of his release from custody and he was immediately arrested that evening and remanded back into custody.

"An independent serious case review took place, as is normal practice when any offender reoffends in this manner and it found that the individual was correctly assessed as a high risk offender and that all reasonable precautions were taken to manage the risk that he presented.

"The individual in this case chose to reoffend and as stated in the case review, did so in circumstances where he had no hope of escaping detection.

"We fully accept this is of little comfort to the child and his family who were subjected to this crime, and who are in our thoughts today."

The former champion boxer from Ardoyne, north Belfast had been jailed in 2015 for a sex attack on a nine-year-old boy.

He received a two-year sentence for that attack on the child in a New Lodge alleyway in August 2014 as he and a friend walked home from a fun fair.

While on bail over those charges and living in a hostel in Belfast's Victoria Street, he sent naked pictures of himself to a 13-year-old boy via the internet and asked for intimate photographs of the boy in return.

At that time the court heard probation officers deemed McAuley dangerous with "a marked lack of remorse and willingness to change".

On Monday, Judge Fowler branded him "a persistent paedophile" and a a dangerous offender due to the risk he poses to the public, saying "it is clear he is sexually attracted to young boys and is unable to control those feelings".

Ms Bailey said her "first thoughts are with the victim of this vicious crime" and she hoped "he can access every support mechanism available in the years ahead", calling for the Gillen Review Recommendations to be "implemented in full so that we can better serve victims of rape and sexual offences".

"This offender is clearly a dangerous and depraved person and it is right that he is off our streets for now," she said.

"He is a repeat offender so clearly previous stints in prison haven’t addressed his offending behaviour.

"The question must be therefore, how are repeat sex offenders managed within our prison system so that their offending behaviour is addressed and the risk they pose to society upon release is reduced?"

Extern said community safety is its "highest priority".

"Staff in Dismas work closely with colleagues in Probation and PSNI to ensure adherence to licence conditions as part of the wider Public Protection Arrangements in Northern Ireland," a spokeswoman said.

McAuley has been handed an extended custodial sentence of six years and three months and will not be automatically released on licence after completing half his sentence because he is deemed a danger to the public.

He will be assessed by the Parole Commissioners who will decide if he is suitable for release before serving the whole term and once released will spend an additional period of six years on licence, subject to recall to prison during that period.

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