A former firefighter from Bangor has been handed a seven and a half year prison sentence for sexually assaulting three teenage girls after plying them with drink and drugs at his ‘party house’ in the town.
Shamed William Rowan Ferguson pleaded guilty to charges of rape and sexual activity with girls under 16.
Ferguson aged 47 now with an address at Crumlin Road based in North Belfast further admitted inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity and also sexual assault.
Following his guilty pleas, a prosecution lawyer asked for a number of other offences to be left on the books and not to be processed without the leave of the crown court or the court of appeal.
Downpatrick crown court sitting in Belfast, heard that one of the girls recounted how there was ‘regular parties’ at Ferguson’s home in Bangor where they were given drink and drugs.
The offences were committed between January 1st 2015 and April 2016.
The court was told that Ferguson threatened the girls with paramilitary action if they spoke out.
Last Friday, February 9th, Ferguson stood in the dock of Belfast recorder court dressed in a grey two pIEce suit and shirt and clutching a walking stick.
Belfast recorder judge David McFarland told Ferguson that had he contested the charges and be found guilty he would of jailed him for total of 10 years for what he described as significant offences. T
he judge said that although Ferguson had made some admissions in the police station he denied the charges in court. Judge McFarland said he was aware that there had been some discussions between his defence and the prosecution even though a trial date had been fixed but he said that the public would not have been aware that these discussions were going on in the background.
The judge added the victims “in this case and their families would of heard you had entered not guilty pleas and that there was going to be a trail despite any assurances given to them by the prosecution.”
The Belfast recorder said “this would have caused significant difficulties for members of the public particularly the victims particularly when they are evidence is going to be challenged and cross examined about the truthfulness of their accounts that can be a traumatic experience for a witness preparing to give evidence.”
The judge said that finally admitting his guilt Ferguson was “telling your family and the wider public that you did do this to the victims and they were telling the truth. You can’t deny that. It is a public admission by you that what you did was wrong, by your guilty pleas the victims were spared the traumatic experience of having to give evidence and also spared the public purse the cost of an expensive trial.”
Judge mcfarland said that as a result of Ferguson’s late guilty plea he was reducing the ten year sentence to one of seven and a half years saying half of the sentence would be spent in custody with the remainder spent on supervised licence upon his release.
The sentence imposed was four years for rape which was consecutive to a three and a half year sentence for the offences of sexual activity by an adult with a child aged 13-16, an adult committing a sex act with a child and causing/inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. He received a further 6 month concurrent sentence for sexual assault.
Ferguson was placed on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life and he also made the subject of conditions under a sexual offenders prevention order on his release from jail.
He is banned from approaching children under the age of 16 without reasonable excuse, he is not aloud in a motor vehicle with a person under the age of 16 without the approval of his designated risk manager, he is also not aloud to enter into a relationship of an intimate nature without notifying his risk manager, at the end of his sentencing remarks
Judge McFarland told prison guards “take him down”.
There was emotional scenes in the public gallery where the victims sat with the families, with some hurling abuse at Ferguson as he was taken to the cells below.