A 46-year-old man who tried to groom a young girl with text messages was jailed for four months last Thursday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.
George Hunter, Moyraverty Court, Craigavon, was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.
As well he was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order with one of the conditions that he is prohibited from approaching any person under the age of 18.
After sentence was passed so-called paedophile hunter Caolan Murray, who was sitting in the public gallery, shouted ‘well done’ and clapped his hands before leaving the courtroom.
At a previous court Hunter admitted that on dates between December 13, 2015, and December 18, 2015 for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification he attempted to communicate with a person under the age of 16.
The case was adjourned until last week to obtain a pre-sentence report.
A public prosecutor said that the mother of an 11-year-old girl checked her daughter’s phone and found a series of texts from the defendant.
At the beginning they contained harmless chit chat but deteriorated into something more serious about touching her chest and touching him.
When interviewed by police Hunter made a full and frank admission saying his behaviour was inappropriate and that he was disgusted with himself.
A barrister representing the defendant said his client felt a great sense of shame and had not been in court the previous week because he had taken an overdose and was in hospital.
He added that there had been no contact with this young lady since then and Hunter was no stranger to the courts with something relevant on his record which happened 32 years ago.
District Judge, Mrs Bernie Kelly, said that involved the denigration of females.
The barrister said it was a difficult sentencing exercise considering the angst the young girl and mother went through.
Judge Kelly said this was a serious charge which she had never come across in a magistrates’ court but was usually dealt with in the Crown Court.
She added this was an adult male who knew the age of the child and this sort of grooming by means of text messages – not telling and that this was a wee secret – has to be considered very serious.
The judge said Hunter was entitled to credit for his plea of guilty which meant that the young person or her mother did not have to come to court to give evidence.
“In my opinion this case should have been in the Crown Court,” she added. “The message has to go out that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Judge Kelly said that the report indicated the initial contact was made during ‘drink fuelled madness’ but the problem was that it carried on into sobriety and was getting more sexualised as time passed.