Ballymena Court hears former school crossing patrol man continues to deny he contacted chatroom decoys who posed as 13-year-old girls

Ballymena Court

A FORMER school crossing patrol man convicted of two charges of attempted sexual communication with what he thought were two 13-year-old girls was snared by so-called paedophile hunting groups.

Patrick McGirr (40), with an address listed as Curran Road in Larne, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday for sentencing.

The court heard he continues to deny the charges and claims he was “hacked”.

At an earlier hearing he was convicted of the two charges relating to dates in August and September 2018 when ‘being a person aged 18 years or over, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification intentionally attempted to communicate with a person under 16 years, the communication being sexual or intended to encourage the said person to make a communication that was sexual’.

A prosecution lawyer said two groups had adults acting as “decoys” in an online chatroom and when they passed their information to police the defendant was arrested.

McGirr had engaged in “highly sexual” conversations on an app and sent to what he thought were two 13 year old girls pictures of his private parts and asked them to send him pictures.

Whenever his request was not responded to the defendant became “emotionally manipulative” saying that he felt like “sh*t” and he “wanted to kill himself” and he also called one of the decoys a “chicken-sh*t coward”.

The prosecutor said the defendant “continues to deny” the offences.

Defence barrister Neil Moore said until the conviction the defendant had been a “man of impeccable character”.

As a result of the case his marriage had broken up and given the “nature of the charges” his family had “turned their backs on him”.

The defence lawyer said McGirr believed he “had been some way hacked”.

As he was denying his guilt the Probation Service were “unable to offer him assistance,” Mr Moore said.

The court heard the defendant had already served three months on remand in connection with the charges which was the equivalent to the maximum sentence in the Magistrates Court for the matter of six months.

District Judge Nigel Broderick adjourning sentencing to later this month to find out if Probation would be able to work with McGirr even though he still denies the offence.

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