Bombarded schoolgirl with phonecalls

Banbridge Court has heard details of how a known sex offender obtained the mobile number of a 14 year old schoolgirl and bombarded her with phonecalls.

In the calls, 24 year old James Carragher asked the girl if she was wearing her school uniform, and what she was wearing underneath it.

At last Thursday’s Court, Carragher, whose address was given as Plantation Road, Portadown, pleaded guilty to intentionally inciting a female child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, harrassment, sending a false message and breaching the Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

He was jailed for a total of seven months by Deputy District Judge Ms Benita Boyd.

A PPS Prosecutor told the court how on 3 January, 2012, police received a complaint from a 14-year-old girl who had been receiving nuisance phonecalls from a withheld number to her mobile phone.

She stated that the phonecalls had started on 30 December and were occurring on a daily basis.

She claimed the calls were always of a sexual nature and typically began with the caller asking what she was wearing under her clothes and if she was wearing her school uniform.

Carragher then asked a sexually explicit question, telling the girl he was turned on by the sound of her voice. The caller then asked the girl to attend a number of locations in Banbridge for sexual intercourse.

The court heard that as a result of Carragher’s calls, the young victim was traumatised, the ordeal affecting her school life and leaving her feeling scared meaning she had to sleep at night with her sister.

Checks were carried out on the mobile phone and it was established the caller was using an unidentified unregistered pay as you go mobile.

Further checks were carried out on the financial transactions linked to the phone and two credit cards were identified. The victim further claimed that in a call made to her on 1 March, the suspect said he shouldn’t be making the calls.

The female inquired if the caller was called James, to which he responded “yes”. He told the girl he had acquired her number from a friend of a friend.

Police then called to an address in Gilford and spoke to Carragher. He denied the allegations and a search revealed a Barclaycard bank statement which matched what was used to top up the mobile phone. However, no mobile was found during the search.

In relation to the fourth charge of breaching the Sexual Offences Prevention Order by having a mobile phone in his possession, Carragher said he had used one to speak to his father.

A solicitor explained that his client has spent the last six and a half months in custody and he realised the court would take a serious view of the charges.

He said his client was obtaining gratification through the phonecalls but stressed that the pair never met up and the charges fell at the lower end of the scale.

He stated that Carragher was aware of the fact that his behaviour needed to be addressed and he was taking active steps while in prison. These included a full time education programme, work and counselling.

Deputy District Judge Ms Boyd said she couldn’t ignore the high risk of re-offending and the risk to the public. She said the charges were serious and of a sexual nature. She brought two suspended sentences into force and jailed Carragher for a total of seven months.