A 31-year-old man who indecently assaulted a teenage girl while he was working as a taxi driver was jailed for three months last Thursday at Banbridge Magistrates Court.
And he was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for seven years.
At a previous court Michael Campbell, Barclay Manor, Dromara, pleaded guilty to the offence which happened on August 27 this year.
He admitted that on that date he intentionally touched a female and the touching was sexual and she did not consent.
Campbell had originally pleaded not guilty and the case was listed as a contest at the last court.
The victim had turned up to give evidence but in the morning Campbell decided to change his plea to guilty.
A public prosecutor said that police received a report of an assault on an 18-year-girl.
After a night out in Banbridge she had been travelling home in a taxi with two friends.
When they got out Campbell invited her to sit in the front seat.
After they drove off he put his left hand on her thigh for a number of seconds and also made inappropriate remarks which left the injured party feeling embarrassed and frightened.
Campbell then put his hand on her leg again and she felt frightened as they were in a rural and isolated area at night.
When she got home she got out of the taxi as quickly as possible and on telling her parents the police were contacted. Campbell was arrested and when cautioned he made no reply.
The prosecutor indicated that the defendant had since voluntarily surrendered his taxi licence.
A barrister representing Campbell said his client knew it was a very serious matter and on reading the victim impact statement it was brought home to him how his actions had affected the injured party.
He added that this offence has had a devastating affect on Campbell’s family life and as well as surrendering his licence he has been suspended from his other employment.
“He is paying an extremely high price for his actions,” said the barrister.
“He is ashamed of his actions.
“It was an absolute moment of madness on his part.”
Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer said he accepted the touching was not as invasive as some sexual touching can be but it was entirely unwelcomed by the complainant.
He added that the public are entitled to expect taxi drivers to be above reproach and in this case Campbell had damaged that general level of trust.
The judge said he could see no other option than immediate custody.
He sentenced Campbell to three months in prison and he will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for seven years.
Later in the court the defendant’s barrister indicated that his client wanted to appeal the sentence.
Judge Mateer set bail at £400 and released Campbell pending the appeal.