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Disgraced youth group leader jailed over park sex act


Terry McCollum arriving at court where he was jailed for masturbating in front of three teenage schoolgirls.

Terry McCollum arriving at court where he was jailed for masturbating in front of three teenage schoolgirls.

Terry McCollum arriving at court where he was jailed for masturbating in front of three teenage schoolgirls.

This is the disgraced former youth group leader who has been jailed after being caught on video committing a lewd sex act in front of three teenage girls.

Flashing pervert Terry McCollum (52) had tried to convince a jury that his shorts had fallen down to his ankles because he had lost so much weight.

The Craigavon man denied pleasuring himself in front of the three girls in public playing fields, claiming he was merely having a pee and was moving his hands because of a prostate problem.

But after viewing phone footage taken by one of the teens, a jury at Craigavon Crown Court last week rejected McCollum's explanation.

McCollum, a former Craigavon youth bank co-ordinator, was ordered to spend 15 months in jail and the rest of his three-year sentence under supervised licence conditions.

Judge Patrick Lynch QC praised the three girls for their common sense not to run away but instead to "surreptitiously record" the pervert as he exposed himself some 30 to 40 yards away. On Friday, the judge said it was that explicit video which "gave a total lie" to the defendant's claims he had simply been trying to urinate.

Judge Lynch told the court he wanted the teenagers to be "officially commended" for bringing him to justice.

At the end of his one-day trial, McCollum, from Kernan Hill Manor, was unanimously convicted on three counts of indecently exposing his genitals in a "lewd, obscene and disgusting nature" and three counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of the three girls "for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification" on May 26 last year.

The jury was told how the three teenage girls, who were aged 13-15-years-old, were sitting on a ledge near the car park at Kernan playing fields when they saw a man, who turned out to be McCollum, "peering" around the corner of the changing rooms looking at them.

With his shorts around his ankles, McCollum had his genitals exposed and was engaged in a solo sex act. McCollum claimed he had recently lost weight so his shorts had simply "fallen down". He also claimed to have a urinary problem.

In court on Friday, a prosecuting counsel said the three young victims had been left feeling "on edge" and unsettled, avoiding public parks and specifically where the incident happened.

Defence lawyer Conor Lunny said McCollum had claimed during consultation that he felt he had "no alternative" but to take the case to trial as he had "so much to lose" including his job, house and liberty.

"In his own words, in hindsight, he would go back and plead guilty," said the lawyer, adding that he had been instructed "to apologise to the girls".

Jailing McCollum, Judge Lynch said that as a youth worker in socially deprived areas, "there's no doubt that you conducted yourself in the past by doing valuable work".

But he added "that cuts both ways" because McCollum "must know the potential impact of sexual impropriety on children".

McCollum was ordered to sign the police sex offenders' register for the rest of his life, barred from working with children and made the subject of a seven-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

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Belfast Telegraph