Suspended sentence for kissing a schoolgirl

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A 54-year-old man who pinned a schoolgirl’s arms to her side before kissing her has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Paul Heaney, North Street, Lurgan, had been charged with intentionally touching a

female on March 20 this year and that the touching was sexual and that she did not consent.

He denied the offence and the case was listed to be heard as a contest at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

On the day the charge was withdrawn and replaced with a charge of common assault. Heaney admitted this offence.

The court heard that police received a report of an assault which had taken place between 3.30pm and 4pm in Market Street, Lurgan.

The injured party, aged 16, said she was waiting for a bus when the defendant approached her. He pinned her arms by her side before grabbing her jaw and kissing her in the area of the left eye.

The victim was very concerned after Heaney made reference to where she lived.

Heaney was located by police and arrested. While in the rear of the police vehicle he said: “I kissed a wee girl on the cheek.” When interviewed he denied holding her by the jaw or kissing her.

The public prosecutor added that the injured party had requested a restraining order.

A barrister representing the defendant said he fully accepted what happened.

She said Heaney had a long-standing alcohol problem and he had been drinking this day and taking medication.

The barrister added that the change of charge had been done with the consent of the injured party and that her client was very sorry.

She said that he understood this must have been very distressing for the girl.. Heaney had a bad record but had nothing like this before.

Deputy District Judge Des Perry said this was ‘a nasty experience for this child’.

He imposed a four-month prison sentence, suspending it for two years. He also made a restraining order which will run for five years.