Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland husband and wife in court over sexual abuse of little girl

WARNING: Readers may find some of the details below upsetting

Gary and Heather Talbot appeared at Downpatrick Court on Thursday, They are charged in connection with an investigation into the sexual abuse of children.
Gary and Heather Talbot appeared at Downpatrick Court on Thursday, They are charged in connection with an investigation into the sexual abuse of children.

By Paul Higgins

A Northern Ireland woman allegedly bought stockings and underwear for an infant female before her husband raped her, a court has heard.

Downpatrick Magistrates' Court also heard claims the police uncovered photographic evidence that showed Gary Talbot (58) and his 57-year-wife Heather Talbot engaging in sexual acts, including rape, with the as yet unidentified little girl.

While Gary Talbot faces two counts of rape and his wife a count of aiding and abetting rape, the married couple, from Kinghill Avenue in the Co Down seaside town of Newcastle, are jointly charged with gross indecency with a child, inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency, indecent assault and three counts alleging they possessed, made and distributed indecent images of a child.

The court heard the allegations date back to between 2001 and 2003 when the alleged victim, named in police interviews by Gary Talbot but who police have not been able to contact, was aged between 18 months and five years.

Gary Talbot, wearing a black jumper and blue jeans and remained handcuffed in the dock, did not apply for bail and was remanded into custody but his wife, who sat with her head bowed throughout the 20 minute hearing, also in handcuffs, did successfully apply to be freed.

Although District Judge Eamon King granted bail to Heather Talbot, she was remanded into custody as the prosecution intend to appeal his decision in the High Court in Belfast.

That appeal is likely to be heard on Friday morning.

Giving evidence to the court a Detective Constable said she believed she could connect the couple to each of their respective offences, adding that police objected to Mrs Talbot being freed amid fears that she would interfere with the investigation.

She told the court the couple's home was initially searched last October when a number of devices, computers and a laptop, were seized, adding that in a separate investigation, Gary Talbot is being investigated over indecent images of children.

The officer revealed that when the devices were examined, “a number of digital images were found which clearly show Gary and Heather Talbot engaging in sexual activity with a child 2-4 years old at their home address.”

She described how there were images which showed the little girl touching Gary Talbot’s private parts, sitting naked on the knees of both defendants while others were “of the same child wearing stockings and underwear, exposing her genitals".

Arrested last Tuesday, the pair underwent a “series of interviews” with investigating police and the DC told the court Gary Talbot identified the child to officers and that despite their efforts, they have been unable to get in touch with her so far.

In his interviews, the court heard Gary Talbot admitted “making a collection of sexy videos...admitted rape, sexually assaulting and gross indecency with the child.”

He further confessed, the court heard, “that his wife was present” during some incidents and “could’ve taken some of the photos,” some of which he distributed to “like minded individuals in chat rooms".

“At this stage we have already obtained evidence that they have distributed material through chat logs on the computer however there are further forensics examinations being carried out on the devices which we have seized,“ said the detective.

Turning to Heather Talbot’s interviews, the officer said she had “never seen the child before” but when shown the photographic evidence, did admit the girl had been at their home.

“She has stated that she had gone with her husband to purchase the dressing up outfits for the victim and that he had discussed with her prior to that that he had fantasised about children,“ revealed the detective.

Heather Talbot had also admitted to “dressing the victim for her husband” but claimed she left the room so “did not know what happened after that between her husband and the victim".

The defendant further claimed many of the images were “innocent”.

In relation to chat logs found on the couple's computer, the detective said Mrs Talbot admitted she had accessed “adult swinging websites with her husband and would use fake names on the sites” but claimed the logs where there was discussions about the sexual abuse of children “were all written by her husband or that he had distributed the images, not her.”

Asked by Judge King what attitude the police had to her bail application, she told the judge police feared that if freed, “she will interfere with witnesses” and potentially commit further offences.

“Heather Talbot is an active participant in the offences committed against this child, making preparations by purchasing the clothing and dressing the child in the clothing, knowing that her husband told her he fantasised about sexual activity with a child,“ the officer declared.

She said there was evidence the couple had distributed images and had been “communicating with like minded individuals on the dark web,” further revealing that cops had found a six page document of a “very concerning nature".

The police officer agreed with the prosecuting lawyer the hand written document contained “further graphic details of the abuse of other children” and also told the lawyer police feared for the safety of the defendant herself if freed given the strong public feelings for allegations of this nature.

Her defence solicitor submitted that Mrs Talbot could be freed, albeit with numerous bail conditions, given her clear record.

“She denied the offences,” said the solicitor adding that in addition to identifying the alleged victim, she had also named “other individuals the police asked her about in relation to safe-guarding issues".

District Judge Eamon King said the couple “face most serious allegations” of child sex abuse, “recording that activity and then he sharing of it".

While he remanded Gary Talbot into custody to appear again on March 1 via videolink, he said he would free his wife on her own bail of £750 but with numerous conditions in that she must live at a police approved address and barring her from having any contact with a child, contacting any witness or her husband and imposing a prohibition on any electronic device which could access the internet.

Following that ruling however, the Public Prosecution Service lawyer said he was giving formal oral notice the prosecution intended to appeal that decision to the High Court and would undertake to lodge the paperwork with the two hours allowed.

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