Belfast Telegraph

'Incurable' paedophile back in prison after secret Thai trip to net vile images

By Lesley-Anne Henry

One of Northern Ireland’s most infamous cyber perverts, who once paid a Thai mother for photographs of her children, has been jailed again for almost three years.

Ian Magill (63), from Ballyhornan Road, Downpatrick, was yesterday sentenced to two years and eight months after being convicted for breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) at Downpatrick Crown Court.

Magill, a graphic designer who once worked at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, may also face charges in England after he was arrested at Heathrow Airport last November returning from a secret trip to Thailand with a laptop computer containing graphic images of child pornography.

Prosecution barrister Stephanie Boyd told the court that Magill, who was required to inform police of any travel arrangements, had obtained permission to travel to Dublin but, when he entered the Republic, used an internet cafe to book flights to London, Bangkok and Hong Kong despite being banned from owning a computer and going online.

Magill was identified and arrested as he passed through Heathrow. A laptop which he had bought in Thailand was seized and he admitted that police would find indecent images if they looked on the hard drive.

In 2007 Magill was handed a two-year jail term for making 50 indecent images of children including categories four and five — the most serious categories.

Describing his latest SOPO breaches as “really quite appalling”, Judge David Smyth said: “What does trouble the court is that this was a devious, premeditated and calculated way to get round exactly what a SOPO is supposed to do, and that is to reduce the risk of repetition.

“He didn’t genuinely tell the police or people who were monitoring him that he was going to Thailand.”

Magill's defence barrister, Chris Holmes, described it as an “unusual and unique case” because his client had been candid “about his difficulties, the things which have got him into trouble”.

“The evil here is really taking himself off to Bangkok in a devious fashion,” Mr Holmes told the court. “He has a lesson learned. He has had nine months to think about it. He fully accepts that it was a foolish thing to do. He could have approached his manager and said ‘this is what I am going to do’.”

However, the prosecution interjected: “Mr Magill is well aware that the police would never have given him permission to fly to Bangkok.”

Magill's double life can be traced back as far as 1991 when he was convicted of taking indecent images of a child.

He was caught smuggling child pornography from Amsterdam in 1995, and admitted in a previous court hearing that he has had a perverted interest in female children from the age of 12, when he was at boarding school in Dublin.

Magill, whose SOPO still remains indefinitely enforced, will serve half of his sentence in custody while the other half will be under supervised parole.

He was given credit by the court for his early guilty plea.

Mr Holmes said Magill had told police that he did not think he could be cured, and that “I am going to have to control myself”.

Proceedings in Downpatrick had to be temporarily adjourned yesterday after a disturbance

broke out in the foyer of the courthouse.

As he was led into the dock yesterday morning handcuffed to a prison guard, Magill appeared dishevelled, dressed in a wrinkled blue shirt with long, greying, unkempt hair.

His faced looked haggard and drawn.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Smyth added: “The connection with Thailand makes this more worrying. You deviously sought to avoid the prohibition of travelling without permission.

“It’s hard, given the record and connection of Thailand and the rationale of a SOPO, to contemplate a worse case.”

Proceedings in Downpatrick had to be temporarily adjourned yesterday after a row broke out in the foyer of Downpatrick court house.

As he was led into the dock yesterday morning handcuffed to a prison guard, Magill appeared dishevelled, dressed in a wrinkled blue shirt with long, greying unkempt hair. His faced looked haggard and drawn.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Smyth added: “The connection with Thailand make this more worrying. You obviously and deviously sought to avoid the prohibition of travelling without permission.”

“It’s hard given the record and connection of Thailand and the rationale of a SOPO to contemplate a worse case.”

Background

Ian Magill, a 63-year-old graphic designer, has a string of convictions. His sordid history can be traced to 1991 when he was convicted of taking indecent images of a child. In 1995 he was caught smuggling child pornography from Amsterdam, and in 2007 Magill was jailed for two years for making indecent images of children.

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