December 2017

Castlewellan man sent to prison after indecent assaults on two brothers

A CASTLEWELLAN businessman has been jailed for six months for the indecent assault of two young brothers more than 20 years ago.

Sixty four year-old James Henry McCullough, of Ballywillwill Road, will also have to spend six months on licence once he is released and has been barred for life from working with children or vulnerable adults.

It is the second time that McCullough has been jailed for preying on young children. In 2001 he was jailed for two years for the sexual assault of five young girls in the Castlewellan area.

McCullough appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court on Wednesday for sentencing after he admitted abusing the brothers in their home between 1994 and 1996.

The court heard McCullough, who knew the boys’ mother and formed a friendship with them, fondled both boys in separate incidents. 

Judge Piers Grant told McCullough that he had abused the trust of the children when they were very young and that both had been significantly affected in later life by his abuse.

“This is a clear breach of a position of trust,” said Judge Grant. “You were in the house and you had both boys in bed at various times and there is no doubt their mother would not have permitted that as she trusted you.

“It is quite clear, and I am not surprised, that they [the victims] have suffered as a result of this breach of trust,” he added.

Judge Grant referred to the extensive series of previous offences committed by McCullough against five young girls between 1971 and 1985. The girls came forward in 2000 and McCullough was sentenced to two years in prison the following year.

The judge said he had taken into account that the offences against the two boys took place before he was convicted of assaulting the girls and that he has not reoffended since being released from prison.

But the Judge said McCullough could have raised his offending against the brothers when he first appeared in court in 2001 and asked for the offences to be taken into consideration, which he failed to do.

Judge Grant also dismissed an appeal from McCullough’s lawyers that he be spared prison.

“There is a suggestion that you suffer from a degree of mental difficulty and it is suggested that by reason of that a period of further imprisonment would be harsh upon you,” he said.

“But Dr Bownes [a consultant psychiatrist] does not make that case on your behalf. Therefore this must be visited by a custodial sentence,” said the judge.

Judge Grant also put in place a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bars McCullough from having any contact, directly or indirectly, with the victims in the case.

He is also prohibited from “accessing, associating or communicating” with children under the age of 16 years unless approved by Social Services.

McCullough has also been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.