Two cases | 

Sicko horse trader who confessed to sex with child also accused of stabbing horse

McGurk was due to stand trial for rape of his young victim but pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of sexual activity involving penetration with a child
Mark McGurk denies stabbing the horse

Mark McGurk denies stabbing the horse

Steven Moore

This is the sleazy pervert who confessed to having sex with a child and we can now reveal is accused of stabbing a horse.

Horse trader Mark McGurk was due to stand trial for rape and the attempted rape of his young victim but pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of sexual activity involving penetration with a child.

Despite his guilty plea, the 23-year-old, with addresses in Gortin Co Tyrone and Cookstown, carried on as if nothing had happened and was back on Facebook trading horses.

And now because of his guilty plea in the serious sex case at Dungannon Crown Court, we can name him for the first time as also being accused of stabbing a horse which had to be put down because of its injuries.

That case, which also includes a charge of possessing an offensive weapon, is ongoing at the lower court in Dungannon where a judge has already told McGurk he "can't see what his defence is" and urged him to "face reality".

McGurk was back on Facebook selling horses

McGurk was back on Facebook selling horses

When we called at his remote and ramshackle home and we found it seemingly deserted, though there were several horses in the surrounding fields.

And when we contacted him on the Facebook page, where he was busy selling an array of horses, he refused to engage and then closed his page down.

This week he pleaded not guilty to rape and attempted rape at Dungannon Crown Court but an alternative charge of sexual activity involving penetration with a child was agreed by the prosecution, which McGurk accepted.

The shocking incident, the full details of which won't be mentioned in court until his sentencing, occurred on October 5, 2019.

Running alongside this, although not connected, was the horse case in Dungannon Magistrates Court alleging McGurk stabbed a horse, which later died.

The guilty plea 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 until January 17, Judge Brian Sherrard QC advised this was in no way to be taken as an indication of the final outcome.

Meanwhile, on the same day but in a different courtroom, McGurk's other case was mentioned.

He denies damaging the horse which belonged to another person and causing it unnecessary suffering on June 10, 2019.

He further denied being in possession of an offensive weapon, namely a knife.

These matters are before Dungannon Magistrates Court.

Previously, District Judge Michael Ranaghan warned he will impose the maximum penalty available if McGurk continues to contest the charges.

On that occasion the case was listed to secure a date for hearing, however Judge Ranaghan remarked: "I have read the details of this matter as it piqued my interest given the nature of the charges. I cannot see what the defence could be. Unless I'm missing something, there is no contest."

The defence replied: "I have issued advices but my client continues to deny the offences."

Judge Ranaghan continued: "Given what he allegedly did to that animal there's only one outcome, especially if he contests it, and given the nature of the cruelty involved, he is looking at the maximum I can do."

He further urged that the vet who provided evidence should not be required to attend court and "reluctantly" listed a contest for hearing in January.

Judge Ranaghan told the defence: "I appreciate your endeavours to get this man to face reality. However, I'd like a personal warning to go from me that if he doesn't see sense, I will be giving the maximum penalty and I may consider consecutive sentences if I can do so.

"That gives him a very firm position of where the court is on this. Hopefully the penny will drop."

At the latest review the court heard McGurk maintains his not guilty position and the matter will run as a contest.

A further review ahead of that will take place later this month.

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