HERE is shamed sex assault councillor Ian Stevenson attending a DUP fundraiser in his Co Antrim hometown last week.
The disgraced Causeway Coast and Glens Borough representative (49) sat amongst party members and politicians at the Ballymoney table quiz despite his suspension from the party.
The former mayor, found guilty of groping a nursing colleague, looked like he didn’t have a care in the world as he answered questions at the DUP cash raising event at the town’s independent Orange Hall.
Amongst those in attendance at the February 22 gathering were former health minister Jim Wells and Ballymoney councillor John Finlay, who shared images from the night on social media.
In one picture Stevenson can be seen clearly sitting alongside older attendees who each paid a £5 entry fee to go towards party funds.
His appearance at the event has raised questions on how seriously his convictions are being taken by both local and senior party members who
“The DUP don’t seem to care who they let into their events now as long as they are helping raise cash,” one disgusted attendee told the Sunday World.
“At the end of the day Ian Stevenson is a convicted sex offender who has to sign the sex offenders register. He should not have been there.
“It’s bad enough that three months after being convicted he still hasn’t been fully removed from the party, now he’s being allowed to attend fundraisers?
“People, especially voters, are starting to question what sort of values the DUP has now. And who can blame them?”
The Sunday World revealed last week how Stevenson is set to run as an independent candidate in the forthcoming council elections after securing support from a former DUP colleague.
Alderman Frank Campbell defended signing the 49 year-old’s nomination papers, saying it was “up to the public to decide” if they wanted Stevenson to retain his council seat.
Councillor Stevenson, who has faced repeated calls to stand down from his council post, has yet to officially announce his intention to run.
But Alderman Campbell, who has been a DUP representative in his local area for 27 years, confirmed he’d nominated Stevenson to contest the elections.
“I gave him a proposal because everyone nowadays will decide for themselves if he’s capable of the work,” he told the Sunday World.
“It’s up to everyone individually and all I did was give him the opportunity to try and if that opportunity doesn’t work I don’t think it’s cost anything.
“I have seen the work Ian has done and he has worked hard.”
Last week the DUP confirmed Stevenson was still suspended from its ranks and said he was not running on behalf of the party.
Stevenson, a former Ballymoney mayor, is currently the subject of a local government watchdog investigation following his conviction for sexual assault in November last year.
The 49 year-old was found guilty at Belfast Magistrates Court of groping a female nursing colleague at a Co Antrim care home in April 2017.
The court heard at the time how the victim was initially approached by Stevenson, the facility’s registered nurse, after she started a night shift and he was clocking off.
After chatting for a while the nursing assistant was called to help a resident and Stevenson asked her for a hug. It was at this point he sexually assaulted her.
Describing how she lifted her hands up to hug the 49 year-old, the victim told the court: “He then put his hand under my arm and groped my left breast….he actually squeezed when he did it.”
It transpired during the contest hearing that the elected representative had been dismissed by his employment over the incident.
Despite denying the allegations, Stevenson was found guilty by a judge who later sentenced him to 220 hours community service. He is also required to sign the sex offender’s register for five years.