August 2017

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.”