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Ex-scoutmaster launches bid to overturn child abuse convictions

Published 13/10/2016

Patrick McQuillan was been jailed for 11 years
Patrick McQuillan was been jailed for 11 years

A former scoutmaster and sports referee jailed for sexually abusing six youngsters has launched a bid to overturn his convictions.

Co Antrim man Patrick Francis McQuillan is challenging guilty verdicts relating to a catalogue of offences spanning a period of almost 20 years.

Lawyers for the 64-year-old went before the Court of Appeal today in an attempt to have the convictions declared unsafe.

They claimed that the trial judge gave flawed directions to the jury who found him guilty.

Judgment in the appeal was reserved.

In 2014 McQuillan, formerly of Moyle Avenue in Ballycastle, was convicted of 38 offences including indecent assault and gross indecency with or towards a child.

The father-of-four was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, banned from working with children or vulnerable adults, and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for 15 years.

McQuillan had also served as a part-time fireman and worked with the St John Ambulance.

During his trial Antrim Crown Court heard he used his position in the community to abuse young boys.

His alleged offending stretched from the early 1980s to 2000.

In one case it was claimed that McQuillan indecently assaulted a child he knew through scouting as he was teaching him how to swim.

On a separate occasion, he allegedly sexually abused a victim in a fire station.

McQuillan was convicted of abusing all six of his victims until they were teenagers.

But his legal team advanced five grounds of challenge at the Court of Appeal hearing.

They centred their case on claims that the trial judge failed to give proper directions to jurors.

Following submissions the appeal panel, led by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, confirmed judgment will be given at a later date.

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