Cookstown sex attack sparks tighter controls on sex offenders

Sex offender: Thomas Christopher Ward
Sex offender: Thomas Christopher Ward

A terrifying sex attack on the streets of Cookstown has led to the introduction of tighter controls on sex offenders, and a “rebalancing of the rights of victims” on what information is shared about their attackers.

In 2011, Thomas Christopher Ward, 25, from Coalisland, was jailed for a sexual assault inflicted on the middle-aged victim in February of that year.

She was followed by a man in a grey hoodie for up to a mile after leaving her home to go jogging in Cookstown. Ward grabbed her in

a sexual assault .

Following a question from Lord Morrow, Justice Minister David Ford, set out the recommendations from Ward’s review, which included the need for full NICHE (criminal record) checks when police become aware of bail applications, and full records being kept on enquiries and the decision making process.

Speaking on behalf of victims, Pam Hunter, Chief Executive of Nexus NI, told the Mail: “The Department of Justice have listened to voluntary organisations and numerous consultations, and have acted on recommendations that have come from these


“The feedback from our clients is fabulous, so from that perspective, whether they are balancing with the view from victims or offenders, I don’t know, but they are definitely being more proactive in engaging

with victims.

“The information flow about cases was extremely frustrating, so it was a needed action and they listened and addressed it, so well done.”