31-year old Derryman given three years probation for sexual grooming

A 31-year-old Derry man who admitted a charge of sexual grooming of a 14-year-old girl was subjected to attack while in prison, Derry Crown Court has been told.

Jonathan Dowds of 56, Abercorn Road in Derry pleaded guilty to the one charge which occurred on January 7th last year.

He was given three years probation last evening subject to a number of conditions.

The court heard that the girl had left her home and met Dowds and they went to his flat.

Judge Piers Grant said that there was no question of force or coercion and no sexual activity had taken place, although Dowds clearly intended to have sexual activity at some stage.

Judge Grant said the courts had to protect vulnerable young women even if they did foolish things.

He added that there was concern about the age difference but as Dowds had the mental capacity of a 16-year-old he was 'much more comfortable' around younger women.

The judge said Dowds had spent a year in custody and been attacked in prison, a matter currently under investigation, he was not going to imprison him further.

Dowds was given three years probation, ordered him to sign the sex offenders register for a period of five years and have no contact with children. He was also barred from having a mobile phone or a computer.