November 2018

Councillor resigns after losing appeal against sexual assault conviction

Former SDLP councillor Brian Duffin from Cargin Road in Toome has resigned after losing his appeal against a conviction for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

The 73-year-old resigned his seat on Antrim and Newtownabbey Council after refusing to stand down following his original conviction.

Giving evidence against Duffin, the 17-year-old victim described how he stuck his tongue into her mouth when he kissed her, had one hand on her breast and the other on her inner thigh during the sexual assault in June 2016.

Judge Melody McReynolds told Coleraine County Appeal Court on Wednesday that she was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the he was guilty.

Describing his victim’s evidence as “truthful, accurate and reliable,” Judge McReynolds said she was affirming Duffin’s conviction for sexual assault and warned that he was “on the cusp of the custodial threshold”.

When initially sentenced in August, Duffin was handed a four-month jail term.

Duffin, a father of 11 and grandfather of 19, will now be sentenced in the new year.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council confirmed on Thursday that Duffin had resigned his seat.

He had resigned from the SDLP in February and continued to serve as an independent councillor despite his conviction.

The SDLP will be allowed to nominate Mr Duffin’s replacement on council, despite his resignation from the party.

“Councillor Duffin originally represented SDLP and therefore the party will co-opt a new member in due course,” a council spokesperson said.