Sex offender jailed for scaring kids

Thomas McConnell was jailed for three years at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Thomas McConnell was jailed for three years at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

A sex offender who targeted children on a swimming outing has been jailed for three years.

Thomas McConnell followed the youngsters who were so worried they raised the alarm with staff at Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex in Bellshill. An employee escorted the group of around a dozen youngsters, aged nine to 12, along the street and was shocked to see McConnell (57) performing a sex act at a bus stop.

McConnell, a prisoner, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court today and admitted behaviour which caused the children fear and alarm on April 2 this year. He also admitted carrying out a sex act in front of some of the group.

The court heard McConnell was on the sex offenders’ register for another offence at the time of the incidents.

Callum Forsyth, prosecuting, said the children had the impression he was following them. He was talking to them and they became increasingly concerned for their safety, so much so that they went back into the sports complex and spoke to a member of staff.

Police were able to trace him after one of the youngsters took a photo of him on a mobile phone.

Defence agent Nicky Matteo asked for a period of supervision on top of McConnell’s likely jail sentence. He said a background report had “looked at every aspect of his life”, adding: “There is a plan which might be fruitful for him and the community. He seems now to accept what happens when he takes alcohol.”

Sheriff Vincent Smith said McConnell had a “short but significant” record. The accused will be supervised for a year on his release and will be on the sex offfenders’ register indefinitely.