May 2018

Man who sexually abused boy as they watched video of buses jailed

A man who sexually abused a teenage boy as they watched a video of buses was jailed yesterday.

The 42-year-old has started a six-month sentence after walking into a police station and confessing to engaging in sexual activity with the 15-year old boy.

Keith Ashe and the teenager both shared an interest in buses, with Belfast Crown Court hearing the sexual activity occurred after they looked at images of buses on Ashe’s computer.

Ashe, from Harrison Walk in Belfast, was handed a two-year sentence after he admitted committing several sexual offences including causing a child to watch a sex act and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told the North Belfast man that he will spend six months of his sentence in prison, followed by 18 months on licence when he is released.

The Judge said he was taking this “exceptional but justified” course to allow Ashe to participate in any Probation-led programmes to address his offending.

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said Ashe’s criminality was carried out over a period from May to August last year, when the injured party was 15. Ms McKay told the court the pair first met in November 2016, when the then 14-year old contacted Ashe on Facebook about his interest in buses.

Prior to the offending, they would stand at bus stops together to observe buses, and the teenager was also invited to Ashe’s house, where they looked at images of buses on Ashe’s computer.

Ms McKay said that in May last year, the teenager was again in Ashe’s bedroom, they had been lying on the bed looking at footage of buses, then Ashe called up a gay porn website on the laptop and said to the teenager “look at this”.

The teenager said he saw a threesome, and that after this Ashe removed the younger male’s tracksuit bottoms and performed oral sex on him. The prosecutor revealed “nothing was said during this incident and the defendant remained fully clothed throughout”. She also revealed similar incidents occurred on a number of occasions between May and August.

The court heard there was also an incident in the bedroom where Ashe masturbated in front of the teenager, and that between May and August Ashe spoke to the teenager in a sexual manner, sometimes whispering in his ear.

Ms McKay said that when Ashe contacted police last summer to inform them he had been engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year old, the teenager was spoken to by officers. Citing the injured party as a “mature young man”, Ms McKay said Ashe’s offending has had an impact in him.

Confirming Ashe appeared in court with a clear criminal record, Ms McKay spoke of a breach of trust and said this was a case where there had been “an element of grooming”.

Defence barrister Stephen Toal said it was “highly unusual” for an offender to walk into a police station and hand himself in – particularly as the teenager had not made a complaint. This, the barrister said, was a “demonstration of his remorse, of this guilt”.

Mr Toal also said that while Ashe “knew what he was doing was wrong”, Ashe viewed the teenager as “an equal”, adding this corrupted thinking would be addressed when Ashe was on licence and attending Probation courses.

After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Judge Miller noted Ashe had “invited prosecution” by informing police about what he had done, and said Ashe was a man who “clearly struggled to come to terms with his own sexual preference for men”.

The Judge also said that while he accepted Ashe was remorseful, he has displayed very little victim awareness and viewed the teenager as a friend rather than a child.

In addition the Judge said that while no force was used, and the teenager willingly returned to Ashe’s home on several occasions, this was still a case where Ashe was “in a dominant position” as he was “three times the boy’s age”.

As well as being sent to jail, Ashe was also made the subject of a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), and the subject of a Notification Order – placed on the Sex Offenders Register – for a period of 10 years.