August 2020

Sex offender was living with mum and two kids, court told

A convicted sex offender resided with the mother of two young children, without notifying the relevant authorities, it has been claimed.

When the alarm was raised, the woman insisted Steven Michael McCarthy was not there, until he emerged after police pointed out his car was parked at the property.

McCarthy (36), from Norglen Parade, Belfast, allegedly breached a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) on July 27 and failed to comply with notification requirements in alerting police to a new address.

He appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court where a police officer said the charges could be connected.

The officer explained a report was received of McCarthy residing in the Donaghmore area for approximately two months.

On arrival his car was observed outside, which was found to be insured to the address.

The female occupant insisted McCarthy did not reside there, but when police pointed to the car, he eventually appeared.

Following arrest, McCarthy confirmed being aware of the SOPO but insisted he had not changed his address.

While knowing the woman resided at the property with her children, he maintained there was no contact with them until the day prior to his arrest.

McCarthy accepted changing the address for cheaper car insurance, not because he resided there. Police felt this did not make sense as the insurance was changed on July 18, 2020, but brought potential fraud offences if – as McCarthy claims – has no links to that address.

Opposing bail, the officer said, “There is a relevant offending history with a total of 15 convictions, three of which are for sexual activity with a child. If released, police believe he will continue to breach the SOPO, possibly constituting further offences. He may not adhere to orders and there was a previous breach in 2017.”

A defence solicitor conceded McCarthy is subject to the SOPO for a significant period of time and there is a previous breach on record, “of a wholly different nature”, for which he received community service.

In the present matters, he repeated McCarthy accepts being to the Donaghmore address but does not reside there, and instead use it for cheaper insurance than that available to his west Belfast residence.

“It’s not an implausible explanation,” said the defence.

“My client instructs having not changed address there was no requirement to notify police nor was he residing in a house where children were present.”

District Judge John Meehan agreed to bail but with specific terms including electronic tagging. “So his whereabouts can be more assuredly verified, as there is suspicion he has taken up residence at another address entirely,” the judge said.