Paedophile released from prison

Published February 17, 2015 by JS2

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People living in the William Street area of Derry say they are concerned for the safety of their children after a convicted paedophile moved back into the area after he was released from prison recently.

The concerned parents, who did not want to disclose their identity publicly, said statutory agencies contacted them over the weekend to inform them that convicted child sex offender, Brendan McGowan, had moved back into the area.

“Welfare officers contacted people living in the area with children at the weekend to tell them not to let him [Mr. McGowan] into their homes.

“I knew Mr. McGowan before he went to prison. I have kids and I will not be letting him anywhere near my house,” said one of the concerned parents.

“I think it’s awful that a man like this can return to a place where there is a school literally just around the corner. It’s just not right,” she added.

Mr. McGowan whose address at the time of the court case last year was Brewster’s Close, pleaded guilty to a total of nine charges of abusing a boy in a flat in the Bogside.

McGowan was sentenced to 18 months in jail and three years on probation.

He is also not allowed to work with children.

The abuse started in September 1989 when the boy was aged 12.

The judge said McGowan, who shared a love of jazz with the boy, used flattery as well as an element of grooming and seduction to carry out the abuse.

He said McGowan, a former swimming instructor at the baths on William Street and Templemore Sports Complex, once said to his victim: “I thought you knew I was gay,”

He said McGowan, a gay rights activist who had set up a helpline and support group for gay people, had difficulties in accepting responsibility for his behaviour.

The judge said he had abused his victim who is 33 years younger than him for “his own desires”.

As part of his sentencing, Mr. McGowan must inform police of his whereabouts for the next ten years.

The Derry Journal put a number of specific questions to the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) yesterday afternoon but a PBNI spokesperson said it was unable to comment on individual cases.

“The PBNI cannot comment on the details of any individual case,” the spokesperson said.

Andrew Quin

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