By Paul Higgins
A Co. Down creep who sexually assaulted and groped a little boy while the child’s mum was in the next room had walked free from court.
Newry Crown Court heard that while Cahill McDonald groped the boy more than once, the last time he did it was while he was sitting on the sofa beside the victim, watching TV.
Sentencing the 34-year-old on Wednesday, Judge Gordon Kerr KC said the victim was aged between three and five at the time of the assaults and he reported to his mum how McDonald had “touched his peepee.”
“There was also evidence from his mother that she saw the defendant move his hand from under the blanket or rug while he was on the of a,” said the judge adding that “certainly, the movement was such as to raise suspicions.”
He told the court it was clear that according to the child’s parents, “its clear that this has had a significant affect on the child” who has become withdrawn “at a crucial time of his development.”
At an earlier hearing MCDonald, from the Drumintee Road in Forkhill, admitted a single count of sexual assaulting a child under 13 on dates unknown between 14 June 2019 and 13 April last year
Turning to the various reports, Judge Kerr said it was clear that McDonald “performed well below average” as regards intellectual ability “but there’s nothing in the evidence to suggest that he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.”
While McDonald himself denies having any sexual interest in children, the judge said probation had assessed the creep as a “high priority for intervention” adding that he had multiple testimonials and references which show “he is extremely highly thought of.”
Judge Kerr explained that in his view, the appropriate sentence was a 12 month jail term but under sentencing legislation, when a sentence is a year or less, “the court should consider an enhanced combination order” of community service and probation.
“I consider, given the background of the case, that this is one where I should impose an ECO,” said the judge.
Imposing an order of 60 hours community service and three years on probation, he warned McDonald the ECO was a direct alternative to jail so if there was any breach or non compliance “the strong likelihood is that i will impose the 12 months.”
In addition to the ECO, the judge imposed a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and McDonald was also ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for seven years.