April 2019

Businessman jailed after relationship with 15-year-old

A businessman who groomed a teenage girl for a “bit of extra-marital fun” has been sent to prison.

Alan David McBride, a 40-year old father-of-two from Long Rig Road in Nutts Corner, was branded a “selfish self-centred man” who displayed very little victim empathy by Judge Geoffrey Miller QC, who handed him an 18-month sentence.

McBride – who owns a car dealership in Crumlin – was told he will serve half his sentence in jail, while the remaining nine months will be spent on licence, after he pleaded guilty to meeting a child following sexual grooming, and five counts of inciting the girl to be involved in pornography.

All the charges relate to a period between July and August 2013, when he and the teenager were involved in a relationship, with the latter charges related to images he asked her to send him.

The complainant – who at the time of McBride’s offending was aged 15 then 16 – attended the same church as McBride, and in the spring of 2013, he began flirting with her and using sexual innuendos.

Crown prosecutor Neil Connor told Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that this flirtation progressed to text messages, with McBride initially sending her images of women both in lingerie and naked, with comments such as ‘I like women who dress up’.

Mr Connors said the teenager was “somewhat flattered” by the attention and reciprocated with text messages to McBride. These messages – some of which were sent while she was 15 – included images of her naked.

McBride sent the teenager around 10 naked images of him around the period when she was 15 and after she turned 16, and around this same period they exchanged what the Crown said were “graphic text messages”.

In these messages, McBride told the girl he wanted to have sex with her, and set out what he wanted her to do to him, and what he wanted her to wear. They then met up in July 2013 “for the purpose of sex”.

After she turned 16, she and McBride began a consensual sexual relationship, and they continued sending naked images to each other.

Mr Connors revealed the relationship continued for around five months – until McBride began a sexual relationship with one of her friends.

The complainant, who is now 21, went to police in June 2016 and McBride was subsequently arrested.

He told police he had been in a sexual relationship with the teenager, but said he believed she was 16. He also branded their relationship as “a bit of extra-marital fun”.

Telling the Judge there were “aggravating factors”, Mr Connor spoke of the 20-year age gap between McBride and the teenager, and the grooming element which saw her send him images of herself.

Defence barrister Charles MacCreanor QC handed a number of character references to the court, and said his client was “shamed and disgusted by what he has done and how he has behaved”.

Pointing out that McBride came before the court with a clear record and nothing pending, Mr MacCreanor spoke of the impact the offending has had on McBride’s domestic situation and also on his business as “people don’t want to associate with him because of the nature of the allegations”.

McBride’s barrister also revealed the businessman noted “he has caused harm to his victim”, adding McBride has not seen his children since the offending emerged.

Before sending McBride to prison, he was addressed by Judge Miller, who spoke of the impact his “manipulation and abuse” has had on the complainant.

Judge Miller added that after reading a pre-sentence report, he felt McBride had displayed both “an apparent lack of empathy” for the complainant, and a “self-centred attitude”.

The Judge also cast doubt on McBride’s claims he believed the girl was 16 when they began having sex, saying it was his belief McBride deliberately targeted someone “half his age” for his own “deviant sexual interests”.

As well as being jailed, McBride was also made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.