A CONVICTED sex offender has been caught wandering the corridors of a local school dressed as a woman.
The man, who was wearing women’s clothes and a blonde wig, was spotted by staff trying handles of doors at St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley on Monday afternoon.
The behaviour is a breach of a previously imposed Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) which bans the defendant coming within 20 metres of schools or places where persons aged under 18 frequent.
Geoffrey Rainey Kelly (35) from Lakeview Crescent, Fivemiletown is charged with committing the offence.
A police officer told Dungannon Magistrates Court the charge could be connected.
Objecting to bail, he explained police were called to St Ciaran’s College, after staff spotted Kelly wearing woman’s clothes and a blonde wig, walking along school corridors, having gained entry by a side door.
He appeared to be trying handles on doors of rooms, but did not enter any of them.
Staff confronted Kelly and he claimed to be looking for a third-year female pupil, providing a name.
The school register was checked and no child of that name was found to be a pupil at St Ciaran’s.
Kelly then left in a vehicle which police later found at Ballygawley Park and Ride.
He was seated in the driver seat and was noted to be wearing clothes as described by staff – a white skirt and pink jacket, with a string of pearls around his neck, as well as the blonde wig.
On being quizzed, Kelly accepted being at the school, claiming he was “just looking around.”
The officer told the court, “We are objecting to bail on the basis of previous offences – including two sexual assaults on female in 2016 and 2017, and well as indecent exposure to a teenager in 2017.”
A defence lawyer urged District Judge Mark McGarrity to grant bail pointing out Kelly’s address is some 16 miles from the school, adding, “There are an armoury of conditions which could be put in place”
He explained the exposure conviction related to Kelly going into a clothes shop where a 16-year-old girl was working. Having bought some clothes which he decided to put on straight away, Kelly “became fully undressed and emerged from a changing room.”
Judge McGarrity asked, “What was he doing at the school? That’s a clear SOPO breach unless he has a very good reason.”
The defence replied, “We didn’t enquire into that. How he choses to dress is not an issue, but it is accepted there are concerns as to why he was at the school, which he accepts.”
Kelly, he continued, had time to think while in custody and has decided to seek assistance for his behaviour.
But Judge McGarrity threw out the application stating, “Bail is refused. This is a case of considerable gravity. There is high-risk of reoffending and potential for non-adherence to bail conditions.”
Kelly was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link later this month.