Suspended prison term for man who harboured runaway teen

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A twenty-years-old Derry man has been sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to a charge of abducting a child in care and a second charge of inducing a child to run or stay away.

Ciaran Bradley with an address at Moss Park appeared at Derry Magistrate’s Court this morning to face sentencing in the matter - which relates to an incident on February 22 of this year.

The court was told that on the date in question police were contacted by staff at a local children’s home to inform them that a 14 year old girl in their charge was in the community and had not returned home.

It was believed that the 14 year old was with Bradley, who she was forbidden from seeing. He had also been given notice of a harbouring order informing him that he was not to grant her access to his home.

At 10.15pm, police attended Bradley’s flat and asked if the 14 year old was there. He replied that she was, and that she was in the bathroom. When police entered the bathroom they found the teen along with another girl. Her eyes were glazed and there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor.

Bradley told police that the teen had arrived at his flat saying she felt sick, and that he had felt sorry for her and let her in.

The teen told police she had been out drinking with a friend and had met Bradley “at the Blue Bridge” at around 4.45pm where she had spoken to him and walked along the quay with him.

She told police she had a hazy memory of what had happened as she had been drinkign vodka.

Bradley told police that he had seen the teen earlier in the day but that he had gone home alone and was there until she had knocked on his door at around 10pm and said that she was going to be sick.

Bradley said that he knew what he did was wrong but that he felt sorry for her and did not want to leave her outside.

Defence solicitor Keith Kyle told the court that at the outset of their friendship, the girl had misrepresented her age to Bradley.

But that aside, he had known that he was not to have contact with her.

Mr Kyle said a report by probation services did not identify Bradley, who had a previously clear record, as someone who was likely to reoffend or who posed a danger to the public.

“The behaviour is not like him at all,” Mr Kyle said.

Derry’s District Judge, Barney McElholm said: “This is a serious matter and older people have to be discouraged from harbouring children who are in care.

“Those young people are particularly vulnerable to exploitation - although there is no suggestion of this kind of intent in this instance.

“However, Mr Bradley was aware that he should not have been harbouring this young woman.”

Along with the suspended sentence, Bradley was ordered to make a £200 payment to Little Orchids charity.