Man convicted of 1970s sex assault

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A COLERAINE man has been placed on the sex offenders register for ten years for an assault on a woman 35 years ago.

Richard Aphonsus MacWilliams (70) of Mountsandel Road appeared at Antrim Crown Court on Friday morning, for indecently assaulting a female in 1979, when he was 39.

A reporting restriction which prevented the defendant’s name being published was lifted by Judge Corinne Philpott during the short sentence hearing.

Court heard that MacWilliams had assaulted the woman by digitally penetrating her on dates unknown between June 30, 1978 and July 1, 1979.

Prosecution QC Richard Weir told the court that the charge related to MacWilliams putting his hand inside the woman pants.

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Corinne Philpott QC took into account MacWilliams clear record.

Speaking directly to the defendant in the dock, she said: “This has been over your head since 2008, that is four years.

“I understand you have health difficulties.

“I have seen your references and I know you have been in employment all of your life. You are well thought of by the people who have provided these references.

“You admit regret and shame.

“It should never have happened, but you have faced your responsibility.”

Judge Philpott told MacWilliams that the offence did not warrant a custodial sentence as he was deemed to be a “low risk” of reoffending.

MacWilliams was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years. He was also placed on the sex offenders register for ten years.

As part of the order he is not permitted to come in contact with any children under the age of 18, unless a responsible adult is present.

“This is a safeguard so that there is no repeat of this type of behaviour,” explained Judge Philpott