Belfast Telegraph

Sex offender 'had 15,000 Skype chats with young girls'

By Staff Reporter

A sex offender previously jailed for having a huge stash of indecent images of children breached his court order by engaging in thousands of Skype chats with young girls, a court heard yesterday.

Cathal Francis Hughes (60) of Beechvalley, Dungannon, is accused of breaching the Sexual Offences Protection Order by contacting girls aged between 10 and 15 over the internet while banned from owning a computer.

In evidence from police, the court was told Hughes sees himself as "protector" of young girls, and does not feel he has done anything wrong.

The contact is alleged to have been ongoing from September 1 last year until his arrest on March 21.

A detective told Dungannon Magistrates Court he conducted a search of Hughes' home on March 21 in relation to a computer seized during a previous bail breach which has since been analysed.

It was found to contain 15,000 Skype chat-logs and some 60 contacts, "the majority if not all are girls"

It also emerged Hughes had - with the knowledge of his designated risk manager - travelled on holiday to Manchester.

However, he admitted during interview he intended to make his way to a park where he knew girls from his chat-logs congregated. He claimed his intention was to take the girls to Social Services.

Some of the conversations were said to be "highly sexual in content", the court heard.

The detective added after being charged with using internet communication with a girl, Hughes replied: "I did not think I was doing anything wrong. I knew she had been sexually abused over a few years and I reported it."

Objecting to bail, the detective said if released, Hughes would be a serious risk to young girls.

There was a short defence submission seeking bail, but District Judge John Meehan firmly rejected any question of release.

He said: "On what is before me this is very serious and concerning evidence.

"The defendant presents as a highly predatory, highly abusive, highly manipulative individual. There is evidence of highly sexualised content with pubescent girls. There is far, far too much of a risk. The trip to Manchester, under the guise of a three- day holiday with designated risk manager notification, was in fact to track down girls."

Hughes was remanded in custody to reappear next month.

Belfast Telegraph


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