A sex offender whose lawyer was to seek an expert report into whether prescription medication had caused “inappropriate conduct” has admitted all charges against him.
tephen Robert Clements (26) from Keenogue Road, Trillick, Co Tyrone, accepted attempting to communicate with a female child, encouraging her to reply in a sexual manner for his own gratification and attempted to intentionally cause her to look at an image of a person engaging in sexual activity.
Offending occurred on dates between October 6 and November 1 last year and came about during an undercover sting with a police officer in England acting as a decoy.
The case was adjourned on a number of occasions while the defence pointed to “recognised side-effects” of the medication, including inappropriate conduct.
He told the court: “[Clements] Takes medication, the side-effects of which led to inappropriate conduct at various stages. This is a recognised side-effect of this medication.”
Although struggling with the correct pronunciation it is believed the defence was referring to Citalopram (an antidepressant) of which: “Some of the long-term effects when this medication is taken in excess of six months have caused concern around behaviour changes.
“In my initial reading, it seems to be a recognised side-effect. The recommendation appears to be that it is not taken in excess of a period of 12-24 months.
“My client was on it for two-and-a-half years. Some of the side-effects are behavioural changes, inappropriate behaviour, strong feelings of happiness, enthusiasm and excitement. It’s a complicated matter.”
While agreeing to adjourn for an expert psychiatric report the judge on that occasion remarked: “This could be a red herring, couldn’t it?”
The defence declared himself: “Not qualified to say that.”
However, on return to court on Tuesday a barrister had been instructed to advise the charges were accepted.
District Judge Bernie Kelly queried why the case was not being transferred to crown court, to which the prosecuting lawyer replied he too was “shocked” that it was not.
He explained on checking this it was decided to keep the matters in the lower court because the offences were attempts and involved a decoy police officer.
“Due to the defendant’s age, his clear previous record, and the fact no indecent images were found on any devices, it is suggested this was an opportunistic encounter. There was no real victim. The conversation was sexual, but not extremely."
Judge Kelly ruled pre-sentence reports were essential and adjourned the case until next month.
She also ordered Clements to sign the Sex Offender Register, the duration of which will be determined at sentencing.
The defence assured the court he had consulted with Clements at length and “advised him of his obligations”.
No further mention was made of the medication issue, although it may be addressed again at sentencing.
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