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Richhill man ordered to pay £1000 for ‘reprehensible’ sexual assault on ‘upstanding member of the community’

A Richhill man who sexually assaulted a woman who had attempted to help his friend after finding him in a distressed state has been order to pay £1,000 in compensation.

Court heard how the 66-year-old grabbed the injured party by the waist, pressed his arm against her chest and attempted to kiss her on the cheek; this was described by the victim as being more of a lick.

Thomas Taylor, of Legacorry House, appeared for sentencing on sexual assault at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Prosecution outlined that the incident occurred on October 28, of 2017, at 6pm.

The injured party had been at Supervalu in Richhill when she expressed concern to staff regarding a male who had been in the store.

The man was then outside the store sitting down, and feeling that he may be homeless the injured party went to speak to him.

After introducing himself, the male told the injured party that he needed to collect items from a friend’s flat.

The female accompanied him to the apartment in Legacorry, which belonged to the male’s friend, who he referred to as ‘Tommy’.

After knocking on the door of the property, to no reply, the injured party offered for the male to wait in her car until ‘Tommy’ returned.

As they were discussing this, the defendant came out of the apartment block and approached the injured party.

She asked Taylor if he was ‘Tommy’ and if he knew the male in her company, to which he confirmed he did.

At this point, the male got up to thank the injured party and shake her hand.

As she did this, the defendant grabbed her by the waist and placed his right arm over her chest before attempting to kiss her on the cheek.

The injured party would later described the kiss as more of a lick; she then broke free and made her way home.

Following the incident, she made contact with police and submitted a statement, which led to the arrest of Taylor.

Defence barrister Patrick Taggart stated: “Your worship heard this contest over two days, unfortunately Mr Taylor is not due any credit for a plea and continues to deny the offence, which should not be held against him.

“Although he maintains his innocence, the pre-sentence report does show that he has some insight into the offence”.

He continued: “This was an unsavoury and nasty incident, but it was only one incident and there was no threat of violence.

“An individual did call to Mr Taylor’s home after this incident also, he is somebody who has a number of protective factions around him including support workers and his extended family.”

District Judge Paul Copeland commented: “Well he managed to slip through the net on this occasion.”

Mr Taggart stated: “He has not come to the attention of police for anything like this before.”

Judge Copeland enquired as to whether Mr Taggart had read the victim impact statement.

He said: “I have not; I do not see any merit in it, I have a firm view of the victim and I wouldn’t want to comment on the victim impact statement.

“Mr Taylor maintains his innocence, the victim and witness avoided answering questions with regards to a later incident when asked by myself.”

Judge Copeland commented: “That is neither here nor there now.”

Mr Taggart stated: “In the report Mr Taylor does accept that the behaviour, as described, is totally unacceptable.”

Judge Copeland said: “Mr Taylor, this was an extreme and entirely distasteful incident which started with a young woman, an upstanding member of the community, assisting your friend who was in distress.

“Following this, you seized the opportunity to become overly familiar with this woman, you violated her dignity causing her fright alarm and upset.

“She has been significantly impacted by this, it is all aggravated by the fact you denied it in the face of overwhelming evidence.

“The witness in my view was honest and truthful, despite your limitations and problems you have to know that this it totally unacceptable and reprehensible.”

Judge Copeland said: “This offence would overwhelmingly warrant a custodial sentence, which I was tempted to impose.

“However, I take into account your clear record, the fact you have physical and mental difficulties which mean you require assisted living and that the probation office are optimistic there is a limited risk of this happening again.”

Taylor was sentenced to 12 months probation and was ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to the injured party.

In addition, the defendant was ordered to sign the Sex Offender’s register for a period of five years.

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