January 217

School caretaker caught with ‘paedophile manuals’ jailed

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A primary school caretaker who became the first person in Northern Ireland to have paedophile grooming manuals and superimposed pictures of children from his school on to those depicting youngsters being sexually abused was today sentenced to a total of three years.

However, Judge Sandra Crawford who described 35-year-old Gary Carruthers’ taking and use of pupils’ faces from the school as “grotesque”, ordered that he serve the bulk of the term, two years, on licence.

This is to ensure he completes a recommended probation organised programme which should help prevent his re-offending and protect both children and the public in the future.

However, as a result, because of time already served awaiting trial, Carruthers, with an address in Victoria Street, Belfast, is now due for release from prison.

Carruthers, described as a “social loner” and possibly suffering from some form of autism, not only admitted having nearly 30,000 indecent images of children, some as young as two to four, being sexually abused, he also pleaded guilty to having two paedophile manuals.

He is also the first person in Northern Ireland to be caught in possession of such manuals. Entitled ‘Childlovin’ and ‘Producing kiddie porn for dummies’, they were discovered along with the indecent images and extreme pornography on over 20 computer storage devices and discs hidden in a safe in his bedroom.

Judge Crawford told Carruthers that the methods set out in the manuals to groom children ultimately, for sex, and the images depicted in them were “utterly shocking”.

The Downpatrick Crown Court judge, sitting in Newry, said that normally guilty pleas would attract substantial credit.

However, she told Carruthers “the evidence against you was overwhelming and effectively you were caught red handed”, and when questioned initially braizened the matter out, denying all responsibility until he produced a prepared statement.

In it Carruthers accepted “responsibility” for all of the images, telling detectives ‘I am deeply sorry for my actions. I do not wish to comment further.’

Judge Crawford also told Carruthers that the “great harm” caused to children being sexually abused was “all too obvious”, and that by seeking and downloading such images from the internet he’d helped maintain “the illegal and depraved industry which exploits and abuses children for the sexual gratification of adults.”

The judge said that Carruthers had abused his of trust as a school caretaker to photograph pupils which he had then used “in a vile and despicable fashion” to impose on images of children being abused.

The judge said that the variety of images including still and videos ranged from the lower level category one, but also included over 400 in the more serious levels four and five, depicting children being sexually abused by adults.

While Carruthers pleaded guilty to having the vast bulk of material from 2012, the judge said that analysis of them showed that some had been recovered from the internet in the weeks and days before his arrest in September 2015.

In addition to Carruthers 12 months imprisonment and two years on licence, he was placed on the Sexual Offender’s Register indefinitely and was also made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for the next 10 years.

Under the SOPO he has been banned from using of any Internet electronic devices without supervision. He is also banned from contacting anyone under 16 or living in a household with youngsters unless approved by the authorities.

November 2016

Belfast man had manual on making child abuse images and abusing children

A man from Belfast who worked as a cleaner in a primary school and who had thousands of indecent images and videos of children being sexually abused has become the first person in Northern Ireland to be prosecuted for possessing a 170-page ‘how to abuse children manual’

Gary Carruthers, 34, from Victoria Street, Belfast admitted at Newtownards magistrates’ court with having two manuals, one giving instructions on how to groom and abuse a child and the other entitled “producing kiddie porn for dummies”.

Mr Carruthers, of Belfast, is in custody on 20 counts of making indecent images of children, two of having paedophile manuals that contained advice or guidance about abusing children

A NCA officer said the 170-page manual was a guide on “how to approach a child” and gave detailed steps on grooming a youngster, from the first introduction to full physical sexual abuse.

The court heard there were 18,000 images including some where children’s faces were superimposed onto abusive images. The amount of material seized was so vast that officers from the National Crime Agency sought the assistance of a forensic firm to trawl through the storage devices they uncovered from his bedroom.

The NCA officer claimed that of the images uncovered, they have been classified “right through [levels] from one to five.”

According to legal guidelines, images classified at level one depict erotic posing while those at level five portray full penetrative sexual acts with adults, often with elements of sadomasochism.

Remanding Carruthers back into custody and extending legal aid to include a senior QC to be instructed in the case, District Judge Hamill ordered him to appear before Downpatrick Crown Court on September 1st when the charges will be put to him at the arraignment stage.

October 2015

Paedophile had 170-page manual on how to abuse children and how not to get caught

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A man has admitted having a 170-page paedophile manual on how to groom children and how not to get caught, in one of the most disturbing cases ever uncovered in Northern Ireland

Gary Carruthers (34), from Victoria Street, Belfast, was found with more than 6,000 indecent images of youngsters.

Police also discovered ‘pseudo-images’, where the faces of children are superimposed onto abuse images. It is believed that one of these images used a photograph of a child known to Carruthers.

The 6,000-plus pictures were found on two storage devices which were part of a haul of 30 found in the bedroom of the house Carruthers shared with his mother and sister. The National Crime Agency (NCA) is yet to investigate 28 of the devices.

An officer from the NCA told the court how some of the files, contained within discs found in a safe in the defendant’s bedroom, were encrypted, and that attempts to secure codes to access them had so far been unsuccessful. 

A solicitor for Carruthers said his client had not refused to reveal the codes, rather that he did not know that the files, which were downloaded from a website, were encrypted or he did not know the passwords.

Ards Magistrates Court heard yesterday how the images that have so far been accessed varied in degree of severity from level one up to level five.

The NCA officer said the 170-page manual was a guide on “how to approach a child” and gave detailed steps on grooming a youngster, from the first introduction to full physical abuse.

A prosecuting lawyer said that Carruthers, who had no criminal record, presented “a clear and present danger to children”. The NCA officer said he could not disagree with the assessment.

Carruthers appeared handcuffed in the dock of the court with head bowed for the duration of the brief hearing, visibly shaking throughout.

He is charged with possessing the manual on September 16 and with possessing indecent photographs of children on the same date.

He is further charged with making indecent pseudo-images of children.

He attended court yesterday following his arrest the previous day, which his barrister pointed out was at variance with a decision by the PSNI to remand him on police bail when first charged on September 16.

The lawyer said that when Carruthers, who made full admissions to the charges, enlisted his services on September 23, police already knew of the charges and the details of the items found.

“He was bailed to his home address to live with his mother and sister but agreed to leave that address and went to stay at a hostel, where he stayed until yesterday before his arrest,” the lawyer added.

“In terms of bail, police were aware of this on September 23 and he wasn’t rearrested. My point is that if there was such a concern, then he should have been arrested on that date, but he wasn’t.” The solicitor conceded the contents of the manual were “horrific and alarming” and said his client, who had been working part-time as a cleaner, lived “an isolated existence”.

“He has no friends, his only communication with anyone is through the internet and he spends his entire life in his bedroom,” he added.

The court also heard that there was “no evidence that he has ever made any approach to anyone”.

“These are serious issues, but this is also a person who has detached himself from reality,” the solicitor said.

“My submission is that [the files] do not leave his bedroom, and there’s no evidence that he was intending to act upon them.”

The solicitor continued that his client had “fallen under the radar” during his life and questioned Carruthers’ “understanding” of the crimes.

But refusing bail, district judge Mark Hamill said the existence of the manual meant it was impossible to release him.

Mr Hamill added: “The court finds it difficult to accept that he has it [the manual] for theoretical reasons. The court can’t accept putting children at risk.”

Carruthers was remanded in custody to appear in court again via videolink on November 6.