Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

I didn't kill Fermanagh child rape gang leader says convicted rapist

Man cleared over predator's murder says he can identity notorious paedo ring

David Sullivan.
David Sullivan.

By Ciaran Barnes

A notorious child rapist has denied murdering one of Northern Ireland's most prolific paedophiles whose mutilated body was pulled from a bog.

Leo Hoad told Sunday Life he was arrested on suspicion of killing scout master David Sullivan but detectives, who asked was he in a relationship with the predator, now accept he was not responsible.

The 40-year-old also claims that while in custody, he was told by a senior police officer that Sullivan was the head of a powerful paedophile ring that abused more than 400 children.

"The police told me he was the worst paedophile in Northern Ireland," he said.

Hoad insists that he knows the identities of some of the child abusers, naming an ex-teacher at a Fermanagh school, and prominent businessmen from Enniskillen and Co Monaghan.

The child rapes that he was jailed for seven years for in 2012 are not connected to Sullivan's crimes, which are now being investigated by a specialist PSNI child abuse team.

"I was arrested in 2009 about the murder of David Sullivan in England by a PSNI detective from Fermanagh," Hoad told this newspaper.

"It was this detective who told me that more than 400 children had been abused by Sullivan and his paedophile ring.

"I was living in Henley-in-Arden (Warwickshire) at the time of my arrest. I was lifted on suspicion of murder because I knew Sullivan."

Bus driver Sullivan, who drove hundreds of Fermanagh children from their rural homes to schools across the county, went missing in 1998. The 51-year-old's decapitated body was pulled from a bog near Belcoo two years later.

Leo Hoad speaks to a Sunday Life journalist. (Photo by Colm O'Reilly, Sunday Life)
Leo Hoad speaks to a Sunday Life journalist. (Photo by Colm O'Reilly, Sunday Life)

Hoad named two other young men who were arrested in connection with Sullivan's killing, but claims they are also innocent.

He said: "I have no idea who killed him. I was brought by the police from England to Belfast City Airport and then on to Omagh PSNI station where I was questioned."

Recalling the moment he was arrested in 2009, the sex offender explained: "The police forced their way into my bedroom at 5am.

"I was handcuffed at gunpoint and flown back to Northern Ireland. I was held for a bit beforehand in the airport police cell. It was terrifying."

Cops questioned Hoad for 24 hours about the Sullivan murder, but he was freed without charge after producing a water-tight alibi. He said: "The day Sullivan went missing in 1998, I was at my godfather Joe Boyd's funeral. That's why the police let me go, because I had a water-tight alibi. They know I didn't murder him."

During the interview he was asked if he was in a relationship with paedophile ex-RAF member Sullivan.

"The police asked me was I in a gay relationship with him. I said 'no', which is the truth," added Hoad, who married a woman last year after getting out of prison.

"They asked me did I kill Sullivan, and I said 'no' again. The police showed me a book of photographs of people who were possible suspects and asked me did I know them. I had to look through it for two hours."

Hoad named the detective who he claims told him Sullivan - a youth leader with both St Macartin's Cathedral Youth Club in Enniskillen and the Duke of Westminster High School's Youth Club in Ballinamallard - and his paedophile friends had abused more than 400 kids.

He said: "The police told me there were more than 400 victims. Sullivan was a scout master so had access to a lot of children.

"The detectives told me there were seven to eight paedophiles working with him abusing children."

Prominent businessmen from Enniskillen and Monaghan, and a Fermanagh schoolteacher, have been identified as child abusers by Hoad. Asked why he thought Sullivan was never charged with sex crimes against children while he was alive, Hoad said: "He was never charged because of what he knew.

"Sullivan knew there were powerful people in Fermanagh abusing kids and he could have brought them down if he was charged. He was providing them, after all."

Hoad's admissions to Sunday Life will lead to him being questioned by a specialist PSNI team set up last week to investigate historic child sex abuse in Fermanagh.

At the heart of the probe is Sullivan, who is strongly suspected of procuring young boys for a powerful paedophile ring in Fermanagh.

Head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, Paula Hilman, said: "Currently we are reviewing evidence and speaking to victims and this will take time. We will take that time.

"As head of the Public Protection Branch, I and detectives working alongside me are committed to supporting victims and ensuring we thoroughly investigate these reports of historical sexual abuse, whether in Fermanagh or other parts of Northern Ireland."

Sullivan's crimes span two decades, from the 1980s through to his disappearance and death in 1998.

The nature of his murder - he had been decapitated after being killed with a blow to the skull - point to a revenge motive.

The remains of the paedophile's torso were discovered by a dog-walker in 2000, several days before his head was found nearby.

It was an open secret throughout Fermanagh that Sullivan was a child sex predator, with young boys regularly seen coming from his Enniskillen flat. Police investigated several claims that Sullivan was a paedophile after his death. However, the cases were dropped because of a lack of evidence.

That is now set to change after the PSNI set up a specialist unit to re-investigate complaints from his victims.

More than a dozen men are understood to have come forward in the past six weeks to say they were abused by Sullivan.

They have also named others who they say were part of his paedophile ring and who are still alive.

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