Belfast Telegraph

'Panicking' Belfast pervert Hull gave phones to charity after viewing child images, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A convicted paedophile repeatedly "panicked" and gave his smartphones away to charity after using them to view indecent images of children, the High Court heard on Thursday.

Belfast man Philip Hull has changed his mobile five times in the last three months, a judge was told.

The 40-year-old also told police that on a scale of one to ten, his current sexual interest in pre-teens is seven.

He was refused bail amid heightening concerns he has visited city centre locations where Santa's Grottos are operating over the Christmas period.

Hull, with an address at Claremont Street in south Belfast, is charged with breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) by deleting his internet browsing history.

The alleged offence was committed between December 9-11.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said Hull told police he had accessed a porn website on his phone before restoring it to factory settings.

Under the terms of a SOPO imposed after he was previously convicted of having indecent images of children, he is prohibited from deleting his browsing history.

During questioning he said that he had used a search engine to view hardcore images of pre-teens, the court heard.

Asked by officers why he then used a factory reset, he replied: "Because I didn't want to get caught again, I didn't want to go through the system again."

Mr Maguire continued: "The applicant went on to say he had a number of phones in the last few months because he uses them to search for and view indecent images of children.

"He said he then panics and gives the phones to charity.

"He admitted using an old phone to view indecent images of children, and then the following day he gave that phone to the British Heart Foundation."

When questioned about whether he cared if someone else saw those photos after the devices were handed in to charities, he said he hadn't thought about that.

Prosecution counsel also submitted: "Asked about his current sexual interest in children on a scale of one to ten, he said he felt it was a seven."

With phone examinations continuing, bail was opposed amid fears of an escalation in Hull's behaviour.

"The applicant has admitted to police that he has visited Castlecourt (shopping centre) and the Christmas Market in Belfast, both of which have Santa's Grottos in them," Mr Maguire said.

"That, combined with an admitted sexual interest in pre-teen children where he said the interest was seven out of ten, gives rise to considerable police concerns.

"The applicant has also notified his risk manager of five mobile phone changes from September 20 this year."

Denying bail, Sir Richard McLaughlin said it would be "totally irresponsible" to release Hull from custody.

The judge added: "Nobody in their right mind is going to give him bail. It just doesn't even get to first base."

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