April 2018

Sex offender did not tell police of hotel stays

A convicted sex offender has received a suspended jail sentence after failing to inform police about hotel stays he was making in Belfast over almost a year.

Keith James Morton (45), of Station Road, Arney, pleaded guilty to being a sex offender subject to notification requirements and failing to inform police of any address where he resided for seven days or longer on dates between November 23, 2016 and September 22, 2017.

Fermanagh Magistrates Court heard that the defendant had been convicted of a rape in 1999 and was made subject to notification requirements on an “indefinite” basis.

Then, on September 22 last year, Morton was involved in an incident in Belfast city centre.

It subsequently emerged that he had stayed overnight at the Travel Lodge in Brunswick Street, Belfast on nine separate occasions in the period between November 2016 and September 2017.

When he was interviewed by the police, he fully admitted that he was aware of his requirements but had failed to notify officers of his hotel stays.

The court also heard that a previous breach had been dealt with at Dungannon court in 2014.

Defending solicitor, Michael Fahy, told the court that, on that occasion, his client had failed to inform police about a change of address.

The solicitor said that Morton had been subject to “very onerous conditions and interference with his liberty” for around two decades.

He told the court that the last instance of the defendant being involved in the perpetration of offences against a person had been in 1999.

While accepting that the latest breach of the court order could result in imprisonment, Mr. Fahy said that there had been no further alleged offending since last September.

The solicitor told the court that the duration of the order could be reviewed and it was something he could pursue on behalf of his client.

In mitigation, Mr. Fahy said that the defendant had been assessed as posing a medium likelihood of re-offending.

He added that Morton had accepted his culpability at an early stage and had entered a guilty plea.

District judge Nigel Broderick observed: “This is an important order given to you by the Crown Court that was designed to deal with the risk the court felt had been proved you posed to society.”

The judge imposed a three-month jail term for the breach, which he then suspended for two years.