A CONVICTED sex-offender caught wandering the corridors of a school in Ballygawley, dressed as a woman, has been jailed after a judge deemed this “a premeditated action to gain entry”.
A defence lawyer described his client as “a complicated character, who is entitled to dress as he likes but not behave as he does”.
Geoffrey Rainey Kelly (35) from Lakeview Crescent, Fivemiletown committed the offence on the afternoon of June 17.
The behaviour breach of a previously imposed Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) which bans Kelly coming within 20 metres of schools or similar facilities. He was remanded in custody since first appearing at Dungannon Magistrates Court last month, where bail was refused.
The court heard police were called to St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley after staff spotted Kelly wearing woman’s clothes and a blonde wig, walking along school corridors, having gained entry by a side door.
He was trying door handles to rooms, but did not enter. On being confronted by staff, he claimed to be looking for a third-year female pupil, providing a name which did not match any pupil at the school.
Kelly left in a vehicle which police later found at Ballygawley Park & Ride. He was seated in the driver seat, 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.”
He was arrested and during interview claimed to remember nothing. A second interview was conducted the following day in which he told police he had travelled to Omagh to pick up a hired car, but had no further recall beyond that. He was shown CCTV footage and while accepting the person in this looked like him, stuck to his original story.
Kelly has previous relevant convictions including two sexual assaults, both on a women in 2016 and 2017. In one of these incidents, which took place in Coalisland, Kelly was also wearing female clothing.
Pre-sentence reports were obtained which, the defence conceded, showed that Kelly, “Minimises his behaviour and lacks understanding.”
He added, “Dressing is clearly an issue. My client is a complicated character. He is fully entitled to dress as he chooses, not to behave as he does.”
The court heard existing Probation Orders imposed for the previous offences, are likely to be revoked.
Noting Kelly is considered highly likely to reoffend generally, District Judge John Meehan remarked, “This was a premeditated action at a school. You were trying door handles to gain entry to premises you are banned from being in or near.
“You present a risk. But you are not paying attention to the SOPO and the risk remains.”
Handing down a four-month prison sentence Judge Meehan deemed this, “Necessary to protect the public”.