Man (71) ‘sorry for looking at child porn images’

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

A 71-year-old Co Antrim man who helps out at his wife’s guesthouse, has apologised for downloading images of child sex abuse from the internet.

Paul Hackney, from Gobbins Road, Islandmagee, who described himself as the guesthouse “DIY man”, was speaking outside Antrim Crown Court where he was freed on three years probation.

Hackney, who was also put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years, also ‘acknowledged’ and echoed what Judge Gordon Kerr QC had told him in court, that such offending “is not a victimless crime”.

Judge Kerr had told Hackney that the courts took such behaviour very serious, despite the views of some who thought that the offending had no victim. Judge Kerr rightly pointed out that “for pictures like these to exist, some child, somewhere, had to be abused”.

The pensioner, described as having “a considerable interest in the arts”, said he was “heartily sorry” for having downloaded nearly 300 images of child sex abuse from the internet, adding “it is not a victimless crime”, and urged others “not to do as I did”.

Prosecuting barrister Tessa Kitson had told the court that on June 5 last year police carried out a planned search of Hackney’s home under a protection of children order.

Police were investigating claims that an internet account at the address was used to access indecent images of children.

Hackney, who admitted a total of 16 charges of taking, making indecent images of children, was asked by police if he had any knowledge of such images. Mrs Kitson said that in reply, Hackney said: “I have looked at what would be technically illegal”.

Defence lawyer John McCrudden QC, said the vast majority of the images involved the lower category one, and there was no question of him having any contact with any of the children at all.

He added that Hackey had nothing to do with either targeting or or preying on children. Mr McCrudden said Hackney was a married man of 42 years, whose wife went everywhere with him. The lawyer also successfully saved Hackney, whom he described as a “person with considerable interests in the arts”, from being barred from going to schools of halls.

However, Judge Kerr, who placed Hackney on the children’s barring list, also made him subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which will run for eight years, in addition to his three years probation.