Belfast Telegraph

Ex-GAA man accused of sex abuse can be quizzed on new claims: judge

Charges: Thomas McKenna
Charges: Thomas McKenna

By Paul Higgins

A former GAA treasurer already accused of abusing 12 people can be further questioned by police, a judge has ordered.

Last month Newry Magistrates' Court heard that another complainant had come forward to make allegations against Thomas McKenna (58).

Yesterday, a detective applied for him to be released into police custody to face further interviews.

With McKenna standing handcuffed in the dock, the detective confirmed to a PSNI inspector that her inquiries regarded "numerous allegations of sexual assault".

The inspector asked the detective to confirm that McKenna would be brought before a court within three days, but she told the senior officer, "It will be just one day". He is likely to appear in court today.

Last month the court heard that as well as further allegations made by another complainant, officers who examined seized devices had identified other potential victims.

The officer in charge of the "complex" investigation outlined how "there's been progress" on the forensic examinations of body samples".

The officer added: "Another victim has come forward and spoken to us as well, and there are potential other victims in the images who have been positively identified, so we need to speak to them."

Charged over two indictments, McKenna, whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, is accused of the sexual abuse of 12 victims over an almost 30-year timespan.

On one set of charges, he is facing 10 offences against three males, including five counts of sexual assault, three counts of indecent assault and single counts of buggery and attempted buggery.

On a second indictment, the former GAA treasurer faces a total of 17 charges. These are alleged to have been committed between 1988 and his arrest in August last year.

They include two counts of buggery against persons aged over 16 without consent and two gross indecency offences, one of which was against a child.

He is also charged with sexual assault, voyeurism and eight counts of indecent assault, along with making and possessing indecent photographs of children. The retired postman, who was treasurer for Crossmaglen Rangers, is further alleged to have interfered with mail during his time of employment.

Previous courts have been told that the investigation" involves alleged victims who claim that McKenna either sexually abused them or took photos and videos of them without their permission.

Police searches led to the recovery of devices said to contain 43,000 still images and 8,000 short video clips - some allegedly taken covertly.

In court yesterday District Judge Mark McGarrity said he was prepared to grant the application to allow police to take McKenna to Banbridge station for questioning.

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