A DISGRACED former Northern Ireland police officer convicted of having thousands of indecent images of children has been charged with breaching a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO).
The SOPO, designed to protect the public from further offences, was imposed on Robert Ainscough last November when he was jailed for possession of the huge haul of child pornography and misconduct in a public office.
At a hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday the 34-year-old was charged with breaching the SOPO on May 16 this year by staying at an address without the approval of his designated risk manager.
Defence solicitor Turlough Madden told the court that his client was in Dublin and asked for a two-week adjournment.
"Being in Dublin doesn't breach the SOPO?" asked District Judge Steven Keown. Mr Madden replied: "I don't believe so."
When he was jailed last November, Craigavon Crown Court heard that Ainscough's former colleagues had uncovered more than 16,000 images of children being sexually abused when he was being investigated for exchanging sexually explicit messages and images with three different women while on duty.
After being sacked by the PSNI, Ainscough was given a nine-month sentence for misconduct in a public office and a four-and-a-half-month sentence for the offences relating to indecent photos and videos of children.
Judge Roseanne McCormick QC ordered the sentences to be served consecutively, with half the time in custody and half under supervised licence.
She also ordered Ainscough to sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years, banned him from working with children and imposed the 10-year SOPO.
Ainscough, who is originally from Dublin but whose address was given as c/o Lurgan PSNI station, faced two separate indictments.
He pleaded guilty to six counts of misconduct in a public office and 13 charges of making indecent images of children.
All of the offences were committed on various dates between February 19, 2014, and September 16, 2016.
The court heard that in relation to the misconduct charges Ainscough had exchanged "highly sexually explicit" messages, including texts, photographs and videos with three different women while on PSNI duty.
The pervert, who was a constable for eight years before being dismissed as a result of the charges, used the police computer to access information about one of the women which would have made clear that she was particularly vulnerable.
Prosecuting counsel Nicola Auret told a previous court hearing that the offences came to light when one of the women Ainscough sent messages to forwarded them on to police in Craigavon.
"The photos (showed) a male in full police uniform exposing his penis," said the lawyer.
Ainscough was arrested and his iPhone 6 was seized for examination.
Subsequent investigations discovered he had been sending, and receiving, sexually explicit messages, photographs and videos to three different women while on duty.
Ms Auret told the court that the photos and videos were taken by Ainscough in the toilets of Banbridge and Lurgan PSNI stations while he was in full uniform.
She said "all the texting was consensual" and that none of the women had filed formal complaints.
The misconduct investigation, however, led police to seize various electronic devices from Ainscough's home.
Detectives later found a total of 16,681 indecent images of children spread across 10 devices, including pen drivers, memory sticks, laptops and hard drives.
In court on Friday, District Judge Keown adjourned the case to October 9.