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Belfast school cleaner admits child porn charges but denies having paedophile manuals

By Paul Higgins

Published 01/09/2016

Guilty pleas: Gary Carruthers
Guilty pleas: Gary Carruthers

A primary school cleaner - the first person in Northern Ireland to be prosecuted for having a paedophile manual - has confessed to having thousands of indecent images and videos of children.

Standing in the dock of Newtownards Crown Court, 34-year-old Gary Carruthers entered guilty pleas to 20 counts of making indecent images of children, three of having prohibited images of children and a further three counts of possessing extreme pornography between July 31, 2012 and September 16 last year.

However, he denied two counts of having a paedophile manual, one giving instructions on how to groom and abuse a child, and the other entitled 'Producing kiddie porn for dummies'.

Previous courts heard claims that amongst the thousands of still and moving images uncovered were ones where children's faces had been superimposed on to pornographic images.

Before yesterday's arraignment, defence QC Gavan Duffy confirmed that Carruthers, from Victoria Street in Belfast, had been "fully informed and advised" about the credit he would receive for admitting his guilt.

The charges arose after officers from the National Crime Agency uncovered 30 storage devices hidden in a safe in his bedroom along with the 170-page paedophile handbook.

Previous courts initially heard there were 6,000 images or pseudo images including some where children's faces were superimposed on to abusive images but that number escalated to around 18,000 as the probe continued.

The amount of material seized was so vast that NCA officers sought the assistance of a private forensic firm of investigators to trawl through the computer hardware, software, CDs and storage devices they uncovered in Carruthers' bedroom.

While Carruthers had saved more than a million images across the devices, an NCA officer has testified previously that examinations of half of those had uncovered more than 18,000 images of child abuse on material which allegedly belonged to the primary school cleaner.

The NCA officer claimed that of the images uncovered, they were classified "right through [levels] from one to five".

According to legal guidelines, images classified at level one depict erotic posing while those at level five portray full penetrative sexual acts with adults, often with elements of sadomasochism. It has been further claimed that the 'paedophile manual' was a guide on 'how to approach a child' and gave detailed steps on how to groom a child.

Judge Piers Grant remanded Carruthers back into custody and listed the case for review in two weeks.

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