Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Convicted paedophile who sparked nationwide manhunt given two year sentence

A convicted paedophile who sparked a nationwide manhunt in April this year after violating his warrant and release conditions has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Forty eight year old James White, from Crossmaglen, described in court as a Category Two sex offender, appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Monday last, where he admitted breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

He was one of two sex offenders who were apprehended by members of the public in Mullaghbawn in April.  Both White and his accomplice, 26 year old Jason Lydiard from Bessbrook, were discovered tied to a bench in the south Armagh village after a protracted cross-border hunt for the pair, who had absconded from authorities.

The Crossmaglen man, whose current address was given as Antrim Road in Belfast, pleaded guilty to owning both a Samsung mobile and a Samsung tablet last October, without the prior approval of a designated risk manager.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Purvis said White’s breaches were discovered last October, after a police search of his hostel accommodation found a tablet and mobile phone, which were seized and later analysed.

The court heard that White called a woman, and accessed the internet searching for dogs and houses.  Even though the devices were not used for any activity deemed criminal, they represented a breach of the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.  White committed a second breach when he later left the hostel without permission in February this year.

Mr Purvis revealed that White  was “at large in the south, then made this way to the north,” before “he was found with another sex offender in the south Armagh area in April.”

The court heard White had 47 previous convictions on both sides of the border which included sexual offences against “males, females and children”.   His last sexual offence against a child was committed in 1994. The prolific sex offender, who once threatened to kill a social worker with a hammer, was jailed for five years in October 1998 on two counts of buggery and five counts of sexual assault on a teenage boy in County Meath. He was released in 2003.

Judge Geoffery Miller handed White a two year sentence last week for breaching his SOPO. which will be divided between a year in prison, followed by a year on licence.

Handing out the sentence, Judge Miller said White had chosen to “disengage” with the terms of his licence after being released from custody last year, and “failed to avail of the assistance of Probation Service.”

White’s sentence will be divided between a year in prison, followed by a year on licence.

The Judge told White he will not be eligible for release until next September, and recommended that as part of his licence, he participates in programmes designed to reduce any risk he poses to the public.