Butcher’s ‘guilty’ plea

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A Ballymoney butcher faces the prospect of a jail sentence after he confessed to sexually assaulting a woman.

Just moments before his victim had been due to testify against him at Antrim Crown Court last Tuesday, Ryan Simpson, 23, had the third count on the indictment put to him again and it was then that he entered his plea.

Standing in the dock in a white shirt and grey tie, he said simply “guilty”, leading his victim to give a quiet, wry smile of relief.

Following Simpson’s confession to sexual assault on 2 February last year in that he “intentionally touched the victim, the touching was sexual and he did not reasonably believe the victim was consenting,” prosecution QC Liam McCollum said the Crown were offering no evidence on the remaining counts one and two.

Accordingly, trial Judge Des Marrinan directed the jury of six men and six women to find Simpson “guilty by confession” to the third count of sexual assault but “not guilty to direction” to counts one and two.

Defence QC Neil Connor confirmed that until his confession, Simpson had no criminal convictions whatsoever but conceded that given his crime, he would be placed on the police sex offenders register.

The lawyer did however successfully ask for Simpson’s bail to be varied to allow him to move from his granny’s house in Dervock where he had been living since the offence, back to his parents house at Eastbourne Crescent in Ballymoney.

He argued that the main thrust of the previous residence condition was to keep him away from his victim lest there be any allegation or attempt at contact or even witness intimidation by that given his guilty plea, “it’s somewhat artificial.”

Granting the bail variation, Judge Marrinan told the senior barrister he could “see the logic” in the defence application but while he varied the residence condition, he kept in place a prohibition on any contact between the defendant and his victim.

Adjourning passing sentence until a presentence probation report had been written about Simpson, the judge said his co-operation in that report was vital “because I know nothing about you.”

Turning to Mr McCollum, Judge Marrinan said whether the victim wanted to submit a victim impact report was a matter for her.

The judge also highlighted that no matter what stance she adopted, “she has been vindicated - she’s the victim.”