June 2015

Man jailed for 12 months for breaching sex offenders’ order twice in three days

A Belfast man was handed a 12-month prison sentence today after he admitted breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order twice in the space of three-day period.

One of the breaches carried out by James Burrows, 22, was when he met a 15-year old girl in a pub in Lisburn, while the other was attending a church-organised activity.

On both occasions, Burrows breached his SOPO by undertaking an activity without the approval of his Designated Risk Manager.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Burrows, from the Ormeau Road, was made the subject of a SOPO on November 19 last year.

Within a week he breached the SOPO on two occasions.

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said that as part of Burrows’ SOPO, he was ordered not to communicate or associate with any female under the age of 16 without the approval of his Designated Risk Manager.

He was also ordered not to attend any church, sporting or social activity without the same approval.

However, on November 23 last year Burrows was observed with a 15-year old girl at Weatherspoons in Lisburn.

When he was spoken to about the breach, Burrows initially claimed he didn’t really know her and only spoke to her briefly.

When CCTV was shown to him which showed he was in her company in the bar for a period of over two hours, he declined to give an explanation and gave ‘no comment’ responses – but later admitted the breach.

Burrows also admitted being in the cafe of the New Life City Church in Belfast on November 25 last year. Despite being in the company of males, there were young females present in the cafe.

Mrs McKay told the court that when the young girl who Burrows was with in Weatherspoons was spoken to by police, she told them she had been in a relationship with Burrows which started in August 2014.

The 15-year old’s mother also told police she was aware of the relationship.

Telling the court there was “nothing to suggest the relationship was of a sexual nature”, Mrs McKay said Burrows didn’t inform his Designated Risk Manager about it.

The prosecutor also revealed that Burrows “has been in prison on and off for a considerable amount of time during his youth,” and said he was assessed by Probation as presenting a significant risk of harm to others.

Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said that while he acknowleged that the breaches were “at the lowest end of offending”, any breach of a SOPO “has to be considered seriously by the court.”

Burrows was handed a 12-month sentence and will spend an extra two years on licence when he is released from custody.

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