June 2017

Northern Ireland man who abused five boys over a decade

Reporting restrictions have been lifted in a case of multiple sexual offences involving five male children, after their abuser changed his plea on the morning a trial was to commence.

Frank Mitchell (75), of Dunbreen Close, Omagh, had previously pleaded not guilty to a total of 13 charges, comprising of 11 counts of indecent assault and two of gross indecency.

However, as a jury was about to be sworn at Dungannon Crown Court, defence QC Jim Gallagher asked for his client to be rearraigned.

Standing in the dock dressed in jeans and a grey fleece, Mitchell, in a very low voice, pleaded guilty to each charge.

Several of his victims – of whom there are five in total – sat quietly in the public gallery, accompanied by police liaison officers, while the guilty pleas were entered.

Offences occurred against one victim in 1986, followed by a second victim between May and October 1987.

The third victim was abused between 1987 and 1988, and the fourth between 2000 and 2002.

The most recent offences occurred against a fifth victim, from November 2004 until December 2007.

His Honour Judge Stephen Fowler QC ruled that pre-sentence reports would be required.

Prosecuting QC Margaret-Ann Dinsmore advised the court that victim impact statements are to be sought.

Mr Gallagher pointed out that he wished to obtain medical reports in respect of his client’s ill health and asked for bail to continue.

Judge Fowler agreed and remanded Mitchell on his existing bail terms, to return to court next month.

However, he warned: “The fact I am granting bail should not be seen as how I will deal with this at sentencing.”

Mitchell was ordered to reside at his current address and no other, and is prohibited from coming within 50 metres of any school or building with child-centred facilities.

He must put clergy on notice of his attendance at any place of worship or church-related activities, and is not to be accompanied by any person under 18, save for accidental contact and with the approval of Social Services.

Reporting restrictions were previously imposed to avoid risk of prejudice to the administration of justice.

However, as the guilty pleas have now been entered, press successfully challenged the necessity of the reporting restrictions, which the judge ordered to be removed.

 

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