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fine issued Co Laois man (35) becomes second person to be convicted of paying for sex in North

Arrested and interviewed, John Bergin “made admissions that he had been drinking” when he arranged for the woman to visit him for sex.

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A Co Laois man was fined £500 (€578) today after he admitted trying to pay for sexual services.

In just the second case if it’s kind in Northern Ireland, Newry Magistrates Court heard that for 35-year-old John Bergin, media attention to his case “has been humiliating and degrading and a salutary lesson.”

Although Bergin, from Fassidinas New Row, Abbeyleix in Co. Laois, did not attend court personally, defence counsel Kevin O’Hare entered guilty pleas to two offences on his behalf - trying to pay for sexual services and possessing class A cocaine on 18 October last year.

A further charge of paying sexual services was not proceeded with and a prosecuting lawyer told the court how cops were alerted to report of “suspicious activity” on Monaghan Street in the city in the early hours of the morning when two women parked up in a white land rover.

One of the females went into a house but police arrived a short time later and while they found her “behind the door,” Bergin admitted that he had contacted her through an escort website and arranged for her to come to the house.

“The females profile on the site was on the defendants phone,” said the lawyer adding that cops also uncovered “two small bags” of cocaine.

Arrested and interviewed, Bergin “made admissions that he had been drinking” when he arranged for the woman to visit him for sex.

Losing a plea in mitigation, Mr O’Hare conceded that while Bergin was not the victim in the case “he did spend a night in custody” and was taken, in handcuffs, to a cash machine to withdraw £400 to secure his bail.

He said that as well as getting attention in the national press, Bergin had also been “all over social media which had been a humiliating and degrading experience and he has learned a very salutary lesson.”

Imposing £250 fines on each count, along with a £15 offender levy, Deputy District Judge Ann Marshall said it was “quite an unusual type of offence” so she could understand “in some way,” the press attention.

In addition to the fines, Bergin also faces a legal bill after he was earlier refused legal aid by District Judge Eamon King.

He raised a chuckle in the court when he told the lawyer: “if he can pay for certain other services, I think he can maybe pay for this.”

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