Belfast Telegraph

Ex-school bus driver (64) abused teen boy in car, Belfast court told

By Michael Donnelly

A former school bus driver sexually assaulted one of his schoolboy passengers years after they parted company and also tried to get him to send indecent pictures and messages, Belfast Crown Court was told yesterday.

The court heard that when police confronted 64-year-old James McCluskey about the allegations, he told "lie after lie after lie" about his involvement with the then teenager.

The proof, prosecutor David Russell claimed, could be found "in that little device we all carry now, the mobile phone", because police were able to access material from their mobiles allegedly demonstrating the extent of the contact between them.

McCluskey, from Arizona Street in west Belfast, denies two charges from November 2013 - one of sexual assault and one of inciting a child to take indecent images of himself when he was 58 and the teenager was 16.

Mr Russell said the age difference was one of the striking facts of the case.

He queried why an elderly man would be interested in a teenager he allegedly offered money and gifts to while telling him to keep it secret.

He also asked "why would he tell lies when spoken to by police?"

The prosecution claims that years after driving him to primary school, McCluskey met up with him and took him out in his car and sexually assaulted him.

The teenager, in a recorded interview with police, told how he complained to McCluskey that "you're doing something to me I don't like" and pleaded with him to take him home.

"What the teenager was describing was a lengthy and unwanted sexual assault on him," said Mr Russell.

In a second interview, the teenager further claimed that while he took "dirty pictures" of himself at McCluskey's behest, he never sent them on, nor did he comply with his request for "sexy messages" to be texted to him.

Mr Russell also claimed that in the wake of the alleged assault, McCluskey called on the teenager's aunt "out of the blue" and - because he might have been spotted out with her nephew - said he "just wanted you to know there is no funny business and there's nothing going on".

McCluskey was first interviewed by police in January 2014, and again in March 2016, when he admitted that he knew he was under investigation.

He claimed that in the seven or eight years since driving the teenager to school in his bus, he had "sort of kept contact with him".

He further claimed that he invited him out "to catch up with him... no other reason ... just to chat with him" and that the boy's aunt "had no problem with that".

However, he accepted he never sought her approval beforehand as "he did not think it was appropriate to do that".

Claiming that this was "common sense turned on its head," Crown counsel claimed that McCluskey told "lie after lie after lie" to police about his involvement and that his interviews "were full of lies, demonstrable lies".

Mr Russell alleged that McCluskey did not want the police to know he had the teenager's mobile number "because it was a big problem for him".

However, when police did uncover the extent of the mobile traffic between them, McCluskey claimed there was "nothing derogatory or anything wrong", nor was there anything "unlawful", in the multiple messages.

In conclusion, he claimed the accused had "insinuated himself into the teenager's life for his own sexual gratification ... and when confronted by police is caught out lying time and again".

He said there was "a clear compelling case and clear compelling evidence of the guilt of the accused".

The case continues.

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