Belfast Telegraph

Ex-headmaster apologised to alleged sex abuse victim in courthouse toilets, jury told

William Lloyd-Lavery at Craigavon Crown Court yesterday
William Lloyd-Lavery at Craigavon Crown Court yesterday

By Paul Higgins

A former headmaster accused of historical sex abuse allegedly told the complainant "I'm sorry" in the toilets of a courthouse, a jury heard yesterday.

Opening the Crown case against 71-year-old William Lloyd-Lavery at Craigavon Crown Court, prosecuting counsel Ian Tannahill claimed that on Monday of this week when the case was in the court list, the defendant and his alleged victim inadvertently met in the toilets of the courthouse.

There the pensioner, who looked as though he had been crying, "looked him in the face... and said, 'I'm sorry'."

"If you are convinced that the victim's account is right, you would be entitled to draw an inference that it's an admission that he had done something wrong and had something to apologise for, draw an inference that that is actually an apology for abusing him," the lawyer said.

The jury also heard, however, the defence contend that while the two men did meet in the toilets "he was not crying and there was no interaction between the two at all".

Lloyd-Lavery, who was principal of Lurgan Technical College from 1992-97 and is from Richmond Avenue in Lisburn, faces 13 sex offences allegedly committed against his male victim.

They include seven counts of indecent assault; four of committing an act of gross indecency with a child; one of inciting a child to engage in an act of gross indecency; and one of taking an indecent photograph of a child, all alleged to have been committed on dates unknown between December 29, 1980 and February 1, 1988.

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Mr Tannahill told the four men and eight women on the jury it is the Crown case that Lloyd-Lavery repeatedly touched the victim inappropriately, starting from when he was around six-years-old until he was 12 or 13. The jury heard how the then schoolboy routinely went to the home of Lloyd-Lavery on a Sunday when he was visiting a relative who lived close to the alleged paedophile.

The lawyer described how the alleged abuse began with Lloyd-Lavery touching the boy's private parts and then pleasuring himself on "numerous occasions" but he claimed that alleged behaviour "progressed" to Lloyd-Lavery sexually assaulting his young victim.

He told the jury they would also hear evidence from the victim, a man now in his 40s, that on occasions Lloyd-Lavery would use a Polaroid camera to take pictures of his half naked body.

He would cut the photos up and put them into an envelope when they had developed, telling the schoolboy he intended to "burn them in the incinerator at Lisburn Tech".

Mr Hannahill revealed the victim first reported the abuse in 1989 and gave a police statement about what had allegedly been happening - but at that stage, the PPS decided not to prosecute Lloyd-Lavery.

Lloyd-Lavery was spoken to by the police at that stage and "flatly denied" any wrongdoing, claiming the complainant was a boy who was "capable of making things up".

The initial PPS decision was revised last year however and charges were brought against Lloyd-Lavery.

Giving evidence to the jury, the complainant claimed Lloyd-Lavery repeatedly told him "not to say anything" about the abuse.

Asked about the incidents with the Polaroid camera, he told Mr Tannahill he could remember "the sheer excitement" Lloyd-Lavery showed as he waited for the image to develop.

Turning to the alleged inadvertent meeting in the toilets at the courthouse, the witness told the jury that when he was "face to face with him, he looked me in the eyes and looked like he had been crying and rubbing his eyes and he says 'I'm sorry'."

Under cross examination from defence QC Ciaran Mallon, the complainant denied the lawyer's suggestion that "you have made this alleged encounter up".

"No, I'm not," declared the witness.

"I have sworn on the Bible that I will tell the truth."

He told Mr Mallon that although he did not have a clear recollection of the layout of the living room where most of the abuse is alleged to have taken place, he could remember the bottom half of his clothes were lowered and Lloyd-Lavery's privates were exposed.

The lawyer suggested that with double French-style patio doors and a window giving a clear line of sight to anyone who looked in, "what you have alleged did not and could not have happened".

The witness claimed it had happened.

He told Mr Mallon the bouts of alleged abuse would've lasted for anything up to around five minutes and conceded there would have been other people in the house at the time.

Suggesting that anyone else in the house could've walked into the room at any time, Mr Mallon put to the witness it was "absolutely, unbelievable and incredible risk-taking that nothing more than the depth of a door" covered up what was happening.

The alleged victim agreed but denied the further suggestion that his evidence was "absolute pie in the sky, it's a nonsense."

"No, it's true," claimed the alleged victim.

The trial continues.

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