Man who once 'qualified as a maths teacher' sexually assaulted woman who was helping him with shopping in Larne

Man who once 'qualified as a maths teacher' sexually assaulted woman who was helping him with shopping in Larne

A LARNE man who once qualified as a maths teacher in England has been jailed for four months for sexually assaulting a woman who was helping with shopping.

Robert McBride (47), with an address at Latharna Houses, was recently convicted in his absence at court of sexually assaulting the woman last summer.

The defendant was found guilty of a charge that he 'intentionally touched a person, the circumstances being that the touching was sexual, that the person did not consent to the touching and you did not reasonably believe that the person so consented'.

The defendant appeared at court for sentencing this week via video link from prison where he had been on remand since January.

A prosecutor said the victim said she was sexually assaulted when she was "at that stage in his life helping him with his shopping once a week".

The lawyer said McBride approached from behind and, over the top of the woman's clothing, squeezed her genitals area with two fingers whilst putting his thumb on her bottom.

The prosecutor said the woman believed it was for McBride's "sexual gratification" as "immediately prior to the incident he had asked her if she was single."

The prosecutor said the woman left immediately and said she was "terrified about what could have happened".

The court heard when arrested the defendant told police he was giving her a "friendly pat on the buttocks and it was in no way sexual nor did he get any sexual gratification from the act".

He agreed his fingers could "possibly have made contact" with her genitals but maintained it was "not his intention".

The court heard the defendant was convicted of the charge last year when the case proceeded in his absence when he failed to turn up at court.

A defence lawyer, Court News NI can report, had told a recent court issues had been raised as to whether the defendant was "schizophrenic".

The lawyer had added: "He originally qualified as a maths teacher in England. Moved back to Northern Ireland and for the last twenty years he has been leading a very bizarre, nomadic, lifestyle in the Larne area".

The lawyer said there "obviously clear mental health issues" and said McBride had "refused to attend court" and had refused to engage with a defence solicitor.

"He is a very, very, complex individual," the lawyer had added.

At court this week, a defence lawyer said the defendant continued to deny the offence and "also downplays his mental health and his alcohol problems".

He said the defendant's family have tried to get him to engage with mental health and rehabilitation services.

The solicitor said he was surprised the defendant had engaged with Probation.

The lawyer said McBride is well-known in Larne and is "regularly seen wandering the streets consuming alcohol".

He said the defendant had no relevant convictions and had "not been assessed as a high likelihood of reoffending nor has he been assessed as dangerous" by a Probation Officer.

District Judge Nigel Broderick told McBride: "This is a very serious case. This was a sexual assault on a female who was only trying to help you and that aggravates the situation because you abused her trust to some extent".

He said he had read a "very powerful victim impact statement" and the woman has "sustained significant emotional harm".

As well as the four months jail term a two year Restraining Order was also put in place.