June 2023

Former DUP councillor avoids jail for child sex offences

A former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor who admitted two counts of attempted sexual communication with a child has avoided prison.

William Walker, 60, posed as a younger man and asked two “children” to send him pictures in their school uniforms.

But he had actually contacted members of a paedophile hunter group acting as decoys, a court heard.

He was sentenced to 100 hours community service and three years’ probation.

At Downpatrick Crown Court, which was sitting in Belfast, Judge Geoffrey Miller KC told Walker his claim he had no sexual interest in children had to “be viewed with scepticism”.

He said Walker, who is originally from Killyleagh, County Down, was motivated by “perverse sexual desires” and had engaged in deliberate sexual grooming.

Walker, who now lives in Palentine Road in Blackpool, had served as a DUP councillor for some years, most recently on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

He also served as chairman of the former Down District Council.

He was suspended by the party after his arrest in March 2022 and later resigned.

The court head Walker set up a fake Facebook profile in the name of Peter Patterson and contacted “Sammy Jo” on 11 February 2022 by sending her a friend request.

Aware that “Sammy Jo” was 14, Walker exchanged messages and asked her to be his girlfriend.

He then discussed teaching her how to kiss, talked about having sex with her and taking her virginity and asked if they could meet.

The former councillor also told her: “I bet you look stunning in your school uniform.”

Around the same time, he contacted the second decoy, posing as a teenager called “Daisy May”.

He also sent her a Facebook friend request and had similar conversations on Facebook and WhatsApp.

He suggested meeting up, told her he would teach her how to kiss and asked for pictures of her in her school uniform.

When police arrested him he claimed he believed “Sammy Jo” had been over 18.

He admitted contacting “Daisy May” but said he had little recollection of what had happened and that he had been drinking “big time” over the relevant period.

Walker claimed he had no intention of meeting either of the girls.

Judge Miller told the court he had received a character reference from a DUP councillor.

He said he “obviously doesn’t know” Walker very well “or he wouldn’t describe him as a man of good character”.

Judge Miller warned Walker that any further offending or a breach of the order would result in him being returned to court.

He was also made the subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and will be on the Sex Offenders Register for the same period.