Pervert who “gratified his sexual urges” in Belfast restaurant while staring at nine-year old girl gets probation
A “category one sex offender” who “gratified his sexual urges” in a Belfast restaurant after staring at a nine-year-old girl was placed on three years probation today (Wednesday).
David Douglas was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) due to prior offending – but has breached the order a total of 13 times.
The latest breach occurred in the Belfast restaurant on March 2 this year and resulted in him spending six months behind bars on remand.
The 59-year old, from Park Drive in Bangor, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he admitted both the breach, and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
The court heard that while the youngster was probably aware of his presence as he sat at a table next to hers, she was unaware of his behaviour and what he was doing as she was colouring in at the time.
A Crown barrister said that as part of Douglas’s previous SOPO, he was banned from entering any fast food outlets where young people would be.
Despite this condition, on the evening in question Douglas sat at a table next to where the youngster was with her grandmother and two other men.
The Crown barrister said: “One of these males noticed a man sitting at the next table rubbing himself around his upper thigh and groin area, and staring at the girl.”
When the girl’s grandmother was alerted, she looked up and saw Douglas “moving his hand in his pocket repeatedly over his groin area for about a minute”.
It emerged Douglas had a “clear view” of the nine-year old, and when asked what he was doing, Douglas initially turned away but then stared again at the child. The party of four moved tables, and Douglas left the restaurant shortly afterwards.
The girl’s grandmother then spoke to staff, CCTV footage was viewed and despite the incident itself not being captured, Douglas was soon identified as the perpetrator.
Revealing Douglas is deemed a “category one sex offender”, the prosecutor said that when arrested and interviewed, he admitted breaching a term of his SOPO. He told officers that prior to going to the restaurant, he had drunk a half bottle of vodka.
He also told police that after spotting the youngster in the restaurant, he “was thinking of things of a sexual nature as he looked at her”, with the resulting sexual activity amounting to satisfying his urges.
Pointing out this was Douglas’s 13th breach of a SOPO, the prosecutor said that despite undergoing various treatments such as counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy – as well as periods in prison – Douglas continues to offend.
A barrister representing Douglas said his client was aware of his own difficulties and had sought voluntary treatment.
The barrister added: “His offending is unpleasant. However, he had never been convicted of any contact offence, and he has never exposed himself in public.”
Defence counsel said the most recent breach occurred when Douglas was “experiencing feelings of low self worth and had turned to drink”.
Asking the judge to spare Douglas further jail time, the barrister said that if placed in probation, his client was willing to engage in whatever treatment is available to address his offending.
Acknowledging the jail time Douglas has already served on remand, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC made him the subject of a three-year probation order, and re-set the terms of his SOPO, which will now run until 2026.
Douglas was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years, and was told by Judge Miller: “If you breach this order by failing to comply or breach the terms, or worse still if you commit a further offence… you can expect nothing other than immediate custody.”
Sex offender carried out obscene act in front of a girl at Belfast restaurant
A REGISTERED sex offender carried out an obscene act in front of a girl aged as young as seven at a Belfast restaurant, the High Court has heard.
David Douglas stared at the child “intently” while touching his genital area after requesting a table near her, prosecutors said.
Counsel for the 58-year-old defendant confirmed he has made admissions and feels shame at his behaviour in the Victoria Square complex.
Douglas, of Park Drive in Bangor, Co Down, is charged with breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), committing an act outraging public decency, and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
Refusing bail, a judge warned him that he faces probable imprisonment.
Douglas is currently banned from loitering around any cafes, food outlets or shopping centres likely to be frequented by anyone under 16.
But the court was told he went into Prezzo restaurant on March 2, claimed to be meeting friends and asked to be seated close to a family dining there.
Crown layer Adrian Higgins said Douglas ordered a beer and sat with a clear view of the girl aged seven or eight.
“The girl’s grandmother said she observed him intently staring at her granddaughter while touching his genitals through his pockets,” the barrister continued.
After he paid his bill and left the restaurant manager was informed about his rude and inappropriate gestures.
Police were contacted, identified him on Victoria Square CCTV footage and carried out an arrest at a later date.
It was revealed that Douglas has 13 breaches of his SOPO since 2011.
Other alleged incidents involved “interfering with himself” in the presence of children at restaurants in Belfast and Bangor.
Mr Justice O’Hara was told Douglas is undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, although progress was described as “slow”.
Denying bail at this stage, the judge said: “This must have been dreadful for the girl and her family to observe.
“It seems to me that a custodial sentence for Mr Douglas is inevitable.”