Former Derry Councillor admits sexually assaulting 11 year old girl

A 77-year-old former SDLP councillor on Derry City Council will be sentenced on Friday after he admitted two charges of sexual assault in an 11-year-old girl.
William McCorriston of  Philip Street in Derry pleaded guilty at today's sitting of Derry Crown Court to the two charges which occurred between September 6 and September 21 2010.
The court was told that the offences came to light on September 22 when the girl's mother told police her daughter had reported to her that McCorriston a family friend had kissed her and made inappropriate comments.

A prosecution barrister told the court the girl said she had been in her own home and her father was watching a football match. She said she went ionto the kitchen and McCorriston told her to look in a catalogue to see a clock she was interested in.

She said he sat beside her and then he kissed her, first short kisses then a longer one that she estimated lasted about 7 seconds.

The child said that it 'felt weird.' McCorriston then went behind her and felt her breasts through her clothing.

The court heard that the girl got up and McCorriston pulled her towards him and kissed her and squeezed her breasts.

The girl then left the kitchen and went and told her mother. After they heard McCorriston leave the house they told the father.

The court was also told that a few weeks previously when the girl had been doing her homework McCorriston had kissed her on the cheek and on the lips.

McCorriston was interviewed on December 1 and denied any inappropriate behaviour.

Defence barrister Mr. Paul Foster said that this had been a 'distressing' incident for the girl.

He said that McCorriston understood that what he had done was wrong and that his plea of guilty was not only to the court but to his own family and the wider community. Mr. Foster said that if the behaviour had ceased after the first incident nothing may have come of it.

Judge Piers Grant said that the court was concerned that this was the 'modus operandi of those carrying out this repulsive activity'. He said that at first the activity was low level and if the child did not report it then it moved to a higher level.

Mr. Foster said there was no suggestion of any force being used and handed ina  reference from someone who had been 'in political life' with McCorriston which he said 'sets out the good work done over 77 years over the bad activity of 7 seconds.'

Judge Grant said any sexual assault on a child was serious.

McCorriston was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Friday.