October 2010

Sex assault fiend who fled to Ireland is finally behind bars

A fugitive paedophile who sexually assaulted a teenage girl then fled to Ireland has finally been brought to justice after five years on the run.

Howard Poots, 58, abused the girl in Middleton in January 2005. She raised the alarm the following day, telling police he had been sexually assaulting her for seven years. Poots was arrested and charged but skipped bail and fled the country to join a travelling community in Ireland. From there police believe he crossed the border to Northern Ireland to work as a long-distance lorry driver.

He returned to England earlier this year and was only arrested after police officers in Cheshire pulled over a HGV he was driving in a routine check. Poots was found to have a false driving licence. Police then checked his details and discovered he was wanted.

At Bolton crown court, Poots – formerly of Thornhill Drive, Dromore, County Down – pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a girl aged under the age of 16 and failing to appear at court.

He was jailed for six years and nine months. Poots was also order to sign the sex offenders register for life and prevented from working with children for life.

Det Con Andy Pilling said: “Poots must have thought he had cheated justice after he fled to Ireland. However, when he fled to Northern Ireland he still needed to make a living so continued to work as a long distance lorry driver.

“Thanks to the diligence of those officers from Cheshire he is now where he belongs – behind bars. “I hope this will be of some comfort for his victim.”