Belfast Telegraph

Police probe images found on Former Boys Brigade leader's computer, court hears

Accused: Neil Cunningham
Accused: Neil Cunningham

By Paul Higgins

Police are examining more than 10,000 images seized from a former Boys Brigade leader who is accused of a number of sexual offences.

A prosecuting lawyer told Lisburn Magistrates Court the officer in charge of the investigation into 29-year-old Neil Cunningham had given an update that police are "about three quarters of the way through" categorising around 11,000 images.

In cases relating to the alleged possession or downloading of indecent images of children, the material is classified according to its content.

These range from the least serious category one, which involves erotic posing, to the most serious category five, which would depict sex with adults or have sadomasochistic elements.

As yet, the court has not heard what type of images Cunningham is alleged to have had.

Former BB and church youth group leader Cunningham, currently on remand in Maghaberry Prison but from Glebe Manor in Hillsborough, is accused of a total of eight sex offences allegedly committed between August 2, 2016 and September 11, 2018. He faces two counts each of breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order (Sopo) and attempting to sexually communicate with four female children.

He also faces four charges of encouraging the children to commit an offence, "namely distributing or showing an indecent photograph" of a child.

Cunningham is alleged to have breached his Sopo by communicating or attempting to communicate with a child and that he "hid the internet history".

Cunningham had been due to appear at court via video-link but due to technical difficulties, the case was mentioned in his absence.

The PPS lawyer told the court that as well as the categorisation of the 11,000 images, "there are a number of items that still need to be looked at but it's all coming together".

Asking for a four-week adjournment, he said the officer "believes that in another couple of weeks all things will be tied up and the file submitted".

District Judge Rosie Watters re-listed the case for June 17 for Cunningham to appear via video-link.

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