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Convicted paedophile and horse stabber facing more charges when freed from prison

Mark McGurk

A convicted paedophile and horse stabber is facing new charges relating to two sets of motoring offences, both of which were allegedly committed while on bail for the matters he is now serving custodial sentences.

According to court papers, one set of charges took place just two weeks before his sex trial was to begin.

Mark McGurk, 23, a horse dealer with an address in Aghinduff Park, Dungannon was already on bail for a sickening animal cruelty attack when he sexually assaulted a child after a cocaine and alcohol binge at a birthday party in October 2019.

That matter was dealt with first at Dungannon Crown Court when McGurk, who was originally charged with rape, pleaded guilty to a lesser count of sexual activity with a child on the day his trial was to begin.

During an adjournment for pre-sentence reports, McGurk was permitted a bail variation to accompany his girlfriend to her college formal in the Europa Hotel, Belfast.

On return to court, his barrister complained that press coverage of this caused McGurk “significant distress” but Judge Brian Sherrard QC responded: “He’s the author of his own misfortune.”

Jailed for 15 months, McGurk thereafter appeared before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court by video-link, continually denying stabbing the horse in June 2019, despite District Judge Michael Ranaghan describing the case as having no defence and warning he would impose the maximum sentence available.

Numerous ‘final’ adjournments followed, and a contest was set to commence earlier this year with a vet on standby to give evidence on the injuries sustained by the horse, which had to be put down.

Following further legal advice McGurk finally accepted deliberately causing unnecessary suffering to the horse.

Police were alerted to the grotesque attack which McGurk filmed and sent to the horse’s owner via Facebook.

The distressing footage clearly showed the horse being stabbed.

McGurk was arrested, making no comment during interview, except to claim he owned the horse.

Bailed while investigations continued, he would go on to sexually assault the child four months later.

Judge Ranaghan was revolted by the attack banding it “evil and disturbing”.

Filming it was “an act of revenge”, he said.

Imposing a sentence of seven months imprisonment, Judge Ranaghan said: “Repeatedly stabbing that totally innocent animal, was a profoundly evil act. I cannot begin to imagine what that defenceless horse suffered, including extreme pain, fear and distress. This wasn’t a moment of madness. It was at least four moments of madness. Blood was pooling around that defenceless animal’s feet. That level of evil cruelty is disturbing.”

Also banning McGurk from owning any animal for seven years, the judge ordered the term of imprisonment be added to the sentence currently being served for sexual activity with the child.

However it has since emerged whilst on bail for both sets of offences McGurk allegedly committed a number of motoring offences on two separate occasions.

He is accused of driving without insurance and permitting a female to drive without insurance at Carland Road, Dungannon on January 22, 2021.

Then on November 24, 2021, just two weeks before the child sex trial was scheduled to begin, McGurk is accused of driving a jeep without insurance, failure to provide driving documents to police, failure to display a rear number plate and using a trailer which was in a dangerous condition, presenting a risk of injury.

This relates to a police detection at Magheraglass Road, Cookstown.

The new charges are currently before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court however no legal representative was in attendance.

Judge Ranaghan, recalling recently jailing McGurk, adjourned both matters for mention in September noting: “These will be waiting for him when he gets out.”

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