The decision to allow the sleazy horse trader to go to a formal at the Europa Hotel was branded a “kick in the teeth” to his victim, her family has said.
Mark McGurk was given special permission from a court on Tuesday to, not only go to the luxury bash at the Europa Hotel with his girlfriend, but also to stay the night.
In December the Sunday World exposed the 23-year-old horse trader from Cookstown after he was due to stand trial for rape and the attempted rape of his young victim.
He ended up pleading guilty to an alternative charge of sexual activity involving penetration with a child.
We also revealed he’s further facing a charge of stabbing a horse which needed to be put down and has been warned by the judge in that case that he “can’t see what his defence is”.
When we contacted him on his Facebook page, where he had been busy selling an array of horses, he refused to engage and then closed his page down.
McGurk is only due to be sentenced for his wicked sex crime next Monday but brazenly applied to have his strict bail conditions lifted so he could go to a formal at the Belfast hotel for one last “jolly”.
It’s understood he attended a formal with his partner who is a first year student at Ulster University.
Sources say McGurk attended the event but didn’t stay long and was soon back in his hotel room.
McGurk was ordered on Tuesday to provide the name and age of all those he was to stay with and must contact the police no later than 5pm of the day in question, providing the hotel room number.
He was also ordered to answer the hotel room door to any police check.
Despite these restrictions it’s a decision which infuriated the family of his young victim who was under the age of 15 when she was the subject of a serious sexual assault.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, a relative said: “We just couldn’t believe he was being allowed out to go partying in a hotel full of young people.
“It’s a kick in the teeth for (name of victim removed) because she has been through hell trying to get over all of this.
“She has suffered serious mental health problems and things like this just set her back. It’s a complete disgrace.
“Every time she thinks she’s getting closure she gets another setback like this. This has pulled this family apart, it’s gut-wrenching so to see him going about enjoying his life when he should be in jail is just too much.”
The relative also told the Sunday World that McGurk, who was 21 at the time of the serious sexual assault, had “known full well” what age his victim was.
“She went to a birthday party to a pub in Cookstown and we knew it was well supervised,” said the relative.
“She was friends with a close relative of his and that’s how we know he knew what age she was and why she trusted him to take her home, yet he broke that trust by sexually assaulting her.
“She’s been so brave; it’s been very tough, but we are so proud of her. We just can’t understand why any court would allow someone like that to go to a hotel for a night out before they’ve even served a single day in jail.
“He’s not allowed to be unsupervised with anyone under the age of 18 so who was keeping an eye on him last (Thursday) night?
“He’s a convicted sex offender who has to sign the sex offenders register. What are they thinking?”
McGurk, previously from Cookstown but bailed to reside at Aghinduff Park, Dungannon, was originally charged with raping a female child on October 5, 2019, which he denied.
On the morning his trial was to begin at Dungannon Crown Court, McGurk admitted a lesser sexual charge involving the child.
This brought immediate sex-offender registration and the case was adjourned to allow for pre-sentence reports, a medical assessment and a victim impact statement.
Releasing McGurk on continuing bail, Judge Brian Sherrard QC advised this was in no way to be taken as an indication of the final outcome.
However, the admission meant it could be disclosed that McGurk is facing a case in the lower court, in which he is accused of stabbing a horse which later died from its injuries.
These matters, which allegedly occurred on June 10, 2019, are denied and a contest is due to be heard at Dungannon Magistrates Court next month.