Former DUP mayor given suspended sentence for child sex offence

A former Democratic Unionist Party mayor convicted of inciting a teenage boy to take part in sexual activity at a function has been given a three-month suspended prison sentence.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:07 pm
Former DUP councillor Thomas Hogg appears at a previous hearing Laganside Court. Picture: Pacemaker

Thomas Hogg was also put on the sex offenders’ register for seven years and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to the victim who rejected his drink-fuelled advances.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard the child sex offence has left the 32-year-old’s political career in ruins and jeopardised his new financial career in the City of London.

Defence counsel Mark Farrell said: “It was a moment of madness which will have catastrophic consequences for Mr Hogg.”

Hogg, with an address at Brae Hill Park in Belfast, sat on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and served as mayor.

But he resigned his seat and quit the DUP after criminal charges were brought against him.

During his trial the court was told how he targeted the victim, then aged 15, at a function in September 2019.

He offered to perform a sexual act on the boy and asked him to perform a similar act on him.

Hogg had only met the teenager for the first time at a public event attended by other young people the previous week.

The boy vehemently rejected his suggestion and informed police.

According to Mr Farrell his client had been “befuddled and stupefied to a certain degree by alcohol”.

He argued that apart from a drink-driving conviction, Hogg had a previous clear record.

The defendant achieved political office and performed “valuable” public service, the court heard.

“That now lies in ruins,” his barrister said.

“He could have gone on to great things given his young age (but) his political career is now behind him.”

District Judge Ted Magill was told Hogg has since attempted to rebuild his life, securing a £30,000 a year job in London.

“I would imagine his employment will be in jeopardy,” Mr Farrell acknowledged.

Dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, Hogg appeared remotely from London for sentencing.

Despite claiming that he had been “tipsy” at the time of the offence, Mr Magill held that the evidence suggested a heavier consumption of alcohol.

The judge also stressed the victim’s shock at the offer made to him by Hogg.

He told the defendant that the offence was aggravated by him being twice the boy’s age.

“In no way, shape or form could you have suspected that there was any encouragement or invitation,” Mr Magill said.

“This boy was utterly and completely innocent, and he can hold his head up with pride.”

With Hogg having rejected a potential community-based sentence, the judge imposed three months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He also confirmed: “I intend to order you to pay £1,000 compensation to this young man.”