Derry man jailed for breaking terms of a sexual prevention order on five separate occasions

Offences included drinking alcohol and being in possession of a phone

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

A man bound by the terms of a sexual prevention order has been jailed for breaching the order on five separate occasions this year.

Richard McFarland, 52, whose charge sheets detail different addresses at Lawrence Hill and Northland Road, admitted breaching the sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) twice on February 6, and again on April 8, August 9 and October 5 of this year.

In February it involved drinking alcohol and breaching a school closing time curfew.

In April he was found to be in possession of a smart phone which had not been approved by his risk manager.

A member of staff at the Simon Community reported that he was using the phone.

After two searches of his room police officers discovered a phone after it fell from the shower door where it had been hidden.

Another man claimed he had given the phone to the defendant two days earlier to fix because the SIM card wasn’t working.

The offence in August involved a mobile phone.

McFarland admitted that his device had been upgraded and he ‘forgot’ to register it.

In October, CCTV showed the defendant falling over on the street.

Officers attended his address and found that his speech was slurred.

He admitted consuming a half bottle of vodka and was arrested for breach of the SOPO.

A defence barrister said the offences were ‘certainly unimpressive’.

The court heard McFarland has 65 convictions, 15 of which are for breaches of SOPOs.

Defence counsel added that his client pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions which ‘contradict his aspirations’.

He said the defendant didn’t commit any further sexual offences.

McFarland, has ‘complex mental health needs’ and struggles with alcohol and substance misuse, the barrister said.

For the past number of weeks he has been residing in Belfast which he sees as a ‘fresh start’.

The court was told that the 52-year-old had a ‘number of adverse experiences in his childhood which changed him into the person he is today’ but he is ‘motivated to change and abide by the terms’ by which he is bound.

District Judge Barney McElholm cited ‘numerous’ breaches of orders in the past and throughout this year.

He added that McFarland pleaded at a reasonably early stage but didn’t have much choice because of the evidence against him.

The defendant was sentenced to five months in prison and Judge McElholm said consecutive sentences could have been imposed.

“He can’t escape a custodial sentence for this, he steadfastly refused to stop breaching orders.”

The defence barrister applied for bail to be fixed.

The judge granted McFarland his own bail of £300 but said he is not to be released and will have to go to a higher court under the circumstances.

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