December 2019

Pervert caught distributing and possessing indecent images of children being sexually abused

A Downpatrick man caught distributing and possessing indecent images of children being sexually abused has received a two-and-half-year sentence.

Gary McLaughlin was also put on the sex offenders register for life.

Judge Patricia Smyth told the 49-year-old that while he may have “suffered significantly” at his offending being made public, “this reflects the revulsion that right-thinking members of the public feel” at such activities.

The Downpatrick Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast, added that these were not “victimless crimes” as children had to be abused so that people like him could view it for their sexual gratification.

She said that “real children have been destroyed for life by the terrible abuse that they have suffered”.

Judge Smyth said that while McLaughlin may have been disgusted by his behaviour, and claimed not to have any sexual interest in children, there was “simply no question, that you have a sexual interest in children”.

McLaughlin, from Corbally Road, Downpatrick, was also told the serious aggravating factor of his offending was the “distribution of these horrendous images”, although for a relatively short four-month period dating back to 2012.

In all he pleaded guilty to a total of 28 charges.

They included possessing over 1,400 indecent images and videos of boys aged from five to 15 years old, some of which were distributed to others.

He will serve 15 months in custody, followed by 15 months of supervised licensed parole.

Last week, prosecution lawyer Laura Ievers said McLaughlin’s home was searched in April 2017 and the images, over half of which were in the most serious categories A and B, were found on two laptops, an iPhone and a USB device.

Ms Ievers said that until January this year McLaughlin denied any knowledge of the images and, while he ultimately accepted responsibility for them, he maintained he had no sexual interest in children nor had he gone looking for images of children being abused.