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Abuse probe at Belfast's Cabin Hill Prep school sparked by child porn case

By Paul Higgins

Published 19/06/2015

Police are conducting an "ongoing investigation" into allegations of rape and sex assault between boys at top Belfast school Cabin Hill Prep, a judge has heard.

The revelation came at Downpatrick Crown Court as defence QC Kieran Mallon pleaded with Judge Brian Sherard to treat the case against a 28-year-old internet paedophile as unique and "exceptional".

The lawyer said while the Belfast man accepted what he did in distributing an unknown number of child abuse images and downloading "in excess" of 11,000 photographs and movies was "base and vile", what had allegedly happened to him as an eight-year-old boarder was equally base and vile and was the "genesis" for him seeking out images of child pornography.

A detective constable revealed that as a result of the defendant's allegations, "I can confirm that they are the subject of an ongoing police investigation" and it was confirmed later that the 28-year-old is one such complainant in that investigation.

Back in 2005 a report published by the Department of Education catalogued a history of mismanagement relating to allegations of sexual abuse against young boys at the east Belfast boarding school, which is a feeder school for Campbell College.

The report detailed how one boy, a dormitory prefect, had abused several boys in 1992 and 1993 and the perpetrator was given a formal police caution in 2002.

In court yesterday Mr Mallon told how the defendant had claimed he had been subjected to bouts of rape and sexual abuse by an older boy for around 18 months from the age of eight, adding that it was a case of the "corrupted becoming the corruptor".

Earlier, Judge Sherard heard how police raided the defendant's home in May 2012 when they suspected him of distributing child porn. Prosecuting lawyer Laura Ievers said officers seized numerous computers and storage media, but due to "constraints on time and resources" they had only examined two computers from which they took "dip samples".

She told the court how among those samples, officers from the PSNI E-Crime unit had uncovered a total of 11,604 images, and that included in the total were more than 3,000 still images and over 500 movies at the most heinous levels of four and five.

Ms Ievers said the ages of the children depicted ranged from "babies to prepubescent children". Arrested and interviewed, the man admitted that he had been distributing the images "for around four years" but could not guess at how many he had disseminated to other paedophiles.

Mr Mallon said while there were numerous aggravating features to the case, it was also "pregnant" with mitigation including his openness, co-operation and honesty with investigating police, his real and genuine remorse, his clear record, the alleged abuse he suffered and the fact that he had tried to address the root cause of his offending himself.

Releasing the Belfast man on continuing bail, Judge Sherard said he would sentence him early next month, but warned the man the fact he was being released "is no indication" to the potential sentence.

Belfast Telegraph

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