Dungannon paedophile walks free after conviction in SOPO case

Dungannon Courthouse
Dungannon Courthouse

A Dungannon man with a record of “preying on young children” walked free from court despite being handed a prison sentence after he admitted breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

A barrister for Cathal Francis Hughes, 61, from Beechvalley, reminded the court that his client had already served three months on remand and asked the court’s sentence to reflect those circumstances.

Hughes was placed under a five-year SOPO in 2014 following conviction for multiple offences.

While on bail, Hughes had been banned from having any device that was capable of accessing the internet. He was, however, detected in October 2014 outside his home in possession of a laptop and in breach of his bail.

A search of his home led to further items being seized. A number of chat-logs with girls aged 10-14 were discovered. They were discribed as “highly sexualised” in content.

He was arrested, but admitted to police that from around September 1 2015 until the time of his arrest on March 21 2016, he had been in contact with a girl he knew to be under 16 years old.

Imposing a sentence of two months, District Judge John Meehan said, “The court has the deepest level of concern when a person breaches terms, especially with a record as appalling as the defendant’s for preying on young children. Any dereliction of the order should be treated very seriously.”

He also imposed an offender’s levy of £25.