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Enniskillen man admitted historic sex offence

AN elderly man who admitted a historical sexual offence against a child over 60 years ago has been handed a Condition Discharge at Dungannon Crown Court.
Michael McBride (77) from Beech Hill, Enniskillen, initially pleaded not guilty to three charges and the case was set down for trial, but discussions between prosecution and defence continued, as a single count was admitted from the outset.
In February, he was re-arraigned pleading guilty to one count of indecently assaulting the boy in 1961, and the remaining matters were not proceeded with.
The court heard the victim attended with police in 2018 to report the incident, naming McBride as an older teenager residing in the area.
Having permitted the boy – then aged 13 – to use his moped, McBride sat behind him on the pillion seat. He reached his arms round, put his hands into the boy’s trouser pockets and touched his genitals.
McBride attended with police and admitted touching the boy sexually on this single occasion.
A defence barrister told the court McBride has a completely clear record, committing no offences at all in the aftermath and living “a blameless life”.
He was described as making, “A positive contribution to his family and community” but now suffers from very poor health.
In respect of the offence itself, the defence said, “Contact was through clothing and didn’t go beyond that, but that is not to minimise the impact on the victim … It appears, at its height, this was teenage experimentation and certainly not pursued in any aspect of my client’s adult life … This is a textbook example of how a defendant who accepts and meets responsibility in court.”
He continued, “The most significant consequence of this is at 77 years of age the defendant has lost his good name and that carries as much weight if not more than anything the court could impose… It’s not an easy situation for his family and there are ramifications for them.”
Judge Peter Irvine QC noted the victim was significantly impacted over the years and struggled with thoughts that the incident was his fault, suffering flashbacks and requiring counselling.
Addressing McBride the judge said, “The victim hopes you reflect on the harm perpetrated.
“You have expressed clear remorse for your behaviour and that may be of some comfort to the victim and may bring him a degree of closure.”
Given the low level of the offence, McBride’s immaturity at the time and the long clear record, Judge Irvine imposed a Conditional Discharge for 12 months.
Sex-offender registration will last for the same duration.

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