May 2023

Police took homeless sex offender to buy football shirt and KFC out of sympathy

Police felt so sorry for a “high risk” category three sex offender they took him to buy a Liverpool FC shirt and a KFC meal after they were unable to find an approved home for him hours after his release.

Lisburn Magistrates Court heard convicted sex offender David Raymond Blaney had to be rearrested for breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) because suitable accommodation could not be found for him on Wednesday.

Pervert Blaney had a “long list” of previous convictions for sexual offences including indecent assaults against females, indecent exposure and multiple breaches of his sex offending prevention order

Blaney (42) of Belfast and Portadown was freed on Wednesday morning but was back in court the next day accused of breaching his SOPO.

Appearing in by video-link from police custody, Blaney was charged with two offences of breaching his SOPO on May 24 this year by “without reasonable excuse,” failing to reside at approved accommodation and failing to be accompanied by his designated risk manager to approved accommodation.

A public protection unit detective said she had collected Blaney from Maghaberry at 10.30am on Wednesday morning and they had gone straight to the Housing Executive offices in Lisburn so that Blaney could declare himself as homeless and seek emergency housing.

“They told him that he was not eligible for emergency accommodation due to a number of their criteria,” said the officer, adding that no homeless or probation run hostel was able to take him in either.

She explained that as Blaney is a “high risk” category three sex offender, it was not suitable for him to stay in either a hotel or a B&B given the fact that the public, and potentially children, would be staying there too.

With nowhere to stay and nowhere to go, Blaney was rearrested at 1pm for breaching his SOPO and Mr Higgins asked the officer: “Did you take him anywhere else?”

“We did. Really feeling a bit sorry for him we took him to buy the shirt that he has on and bought him dinner. He had been in prison for quite some time and he said that all he wanted was a Liverpool football shirt and a KFC, so we felt it only fair to get him those,” said the officer.

While Mr Higgins stressed the terms of the charge is “without reasonable excuse,” the officer argued the SOPO breach “is an absolute offence” and that knowing of his impending release, Blaney would have had opportunities while in prison to liaise with statutory agencies to help him find suitable accommodation.

“I would find it more acceptable if he was arrested near midnight rather than at 1pm as a bed may have become available,” said the solicitor, arguing that clearly, “he was with his DRM [risk manager] at all times.”

“I say that you should dismiss the charge this morning,” declared Mr Higgins but District Judge Trevor Brown said he was satisfied there was sufficient prima facie evidence to establish the charge and connect Blaney to it.

Turning to the issue of bail, the officer said that she was “absolutely” objecting to Blaney being freed due to the risk of further offences.

Mr Higgins argued that Blaney could be granted bail but not released until he found an address that police could approve and that would mean that he could also start applying for Housing Executive accommodation.

While District Judge Brown said he would grant bail in the sum of £500, a prosecuting lawyer told him that even though Blaney will not be immediately released, she had been instructed to appeal the judge’s decision.