Northern Ireland

Brian Duffin sentenced for teen sex assault

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Media captionSex assault councillor 'will not resign'

A councillor has been sentenced to four months in jail for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Brian Duffin, from Cargin Road in Toome, was released on bail pending an application to appeal his conviction.

The 73-year-old told BBC News NI he would not be resigning as a councillor on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

He was convicted of kissing and sexually touching a 17-year-old girl at her home in June 2016.

He is currently an independent councillor having resigned from the SDLP, of which he had been a member since its foundation, in February pending the outcome of the case.

Duffin, who is married with 11 children and 19 grandchildren, has been involved in politics since 1968.

'Took wallet out'

Duffin had denied the charge and was found guilty in June at Antrim Magistrates' Court.

During a police interview, the victim said Duffin put his arm around her when she became upset talking about her ill grandfather while they were sitting alone together on a sofa.

The complainant said she became uncomfortable when Duffin began to console her by rubbing his arm up and down her shoulder while giving her a hug.

He then grabbed the then 17-year-old's right breast and forced his tongue into her mouth.

Estimating the attack lasted about 10 seconds, the girl said that Duffin then took his wallet out and placed £40 on the table before walking out.

District Judge Nigel Broderick told an emotional Duffin at Antrim Magistrates' Court that despite his good character and references "given the age and vulnerability of the injured party, I consider the custody threshold has been crossed".

'Personally devastated'

Although the judge imposed a four-month jail sentence, following an application from the defence counsel, he freed Duffin on £500 bail pending an appeal of both the sentence and conviction.

Defence solicitor Chris Sherard said that Duffin's conviction was a "significant stain on otherwise excellent character" and had left the pensioner "emotionally distraught and personally devastated."

Following his conviction, he has faced calls to step down as a councillor.

An SDLP spokesperson said in June: "Mr Duffin is no longer an SDLP councillor. The party unreservedly condemn Duffin's actions and he should resign his seat immediately."

A spokeswoman for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said that it was "currently taking advice on the matter".

In addition to the jail sentence, the judge imposed a five-year sexual offences prevention order on Duffin, the terms of which include having no contact with anyone under the age of 17 without approval from risk manager.

Duffin must also sign the police sex offenders register for seven years.

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