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Ex-Antrim council boss Stewart who looked at child porn in open-plan office 'a loner'

By Michael Donnelly

Published 08/04/2016

John Trevor Stewart leaves Antrim Crown Court after his sentencing was adjourned for medical reports to be prepared
John Trevor Stewart leaves Antrim Crown Court after his sentencing was adjourned for medical reports to be prepared

A judge has called for medical reports on a council chief dismissed from his post after being caught looking at child pornography on his office computer.

Judge Desmond Marrinan told the former environmental health chief John Trevor Stewart that given the prospect of his possible imprisonment, "you should not face the decision of the court without that evidence being in place".

The Antrim Crown Court judge said it was a difficult case in which he was told Stewart felt "driven by urges" to look at such sites, and in the circumstances he would prefer having professional reports on him and his family before sentence.

Stewart, the former head of Environment Services with Antrim Borough Council, from Grannystown Road in Portglenone, will be sentenced in June on a total of 39 charges involving more than 9,000 images of child sex abuse. The offences, committed over a six-year period from September 2007 until August 2013, include 21 charges of making indecent photos, 15 of possessing them, and three of having prohibited images of a child.

Prosecution lawyer George Chisney revealed 62-year-old Stewart was dismissed after two women in the open-plan office reported him to their line manager after spotting him looking at child sexual abuse sites on his work computer.

The Crown lawyer said police later recovered images of child sex abuse on his Dell desktop work computer and also on his home laptop.

In addition, Stewart, who co-operated fully with police, also handed over a number of computer memory sticks containing downloaded images.

Mr Chisney said that police, who uncovered many more images, the vast majority of which were in the lowest Category 1, estimated that up to August 2011, Stewart had viewed the images up to 19,000 times. The lawyer added that Stewart was regarded as posing a medium risk of re-offending, and that the aggravating feature in the case was his viewing of images during working hours in his workplace.

Defence lawyer Neil Moore described Stewart as "quite clearly a socially isolated individual... something of a loner", with few friends, who divided his time since losing his job between reading history books and being a carer for his sister and her teenage daughter.

Stewart, he said, a man of previous good character, had lost his reputation, and was acutely aware of the shame, distress and harm he has not only brought on himself, but also on his family.

Mr Moore added that Stewart was also "well aware that no matter what way one attempts to mitigate in this type of case, there is always an abused child involved in the end... on this dark side of the internet".

The lawyer also accepted that Stewart had made "quite blatant use" of his office computer to view indecent images, but while "reckless" it was more "part and parcel of his interest in these sites on his computer".

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