Castlewellan predator to find out if he will be put jailed for fondling

Castlewellan predator to find out if he will be put jailed for fondling

29 November 2017

A CASTLEWELLAN businessman will today learn if he will serve a prison sentence for the indecent assault of two young brothers.

Sixty four year-old James Henry McCullough will return to Downpatrick Crown Court this morning to hear Judge Piers Grant pass sentence on him for two charges of indecent assault committed against the brothers more than 20 years ago.

McCullough, of Ballywillwill Road, was remanded in custody last Wednesday by Judge Grant after admitting abusing the boys in their home between 1994 and 1996.

He is already a convicted sex offender having previously served a prison sentence for the indecent assault of five young girls.

At last week’s Crown Court hearing Judge Grant lifted an anonymity order which had prohibited the media from naming McCullough.

Outlining the case against McCullough, prosecution barrister, Laura Ivers, said the incidents came to light towards the end of last year when the brothers went to the police to report the incidents.

Ms Ivers explained that McCullough knew the boys’ mother and got to know the boys. “He got on well with them, calling on a regular basis and buying them sweets,” she explained.

The older brother told police that during one of his visits McCullough called him into a bedroom and encouraged him to get under a duvet when the defendant touched the child’s genitals. The offence occurred sometime between January 1, 1994, and September 1, 1996.

“The incident was over as quick as it happened and the boy didn’t tell anyone at the time,” said the barrister.

His younger brother told the police about an incident which occurred during the same time spell.

Ms Ivers said during one of McCullough’s visits, the boy’s mother left the room to make tea and McCullough rubbed the boy’s back before touching his genitals.

“He told the police he was too young to appreciate what had happened at the time,” she added.

The lawyer said the boys’ mother heard them discussing what had happened and she immediately ended any contact with McCullough. The incidents were not reported to police at the time.

Ms Ivers went on to outline details of the previous incidents of indecent assault against McCullough which occurred against five young girls between 1971 and 1985.

The girls came forward and reported the incidents in 2000 and McCullough was sentenced to three years in prison the following year.

Defence counsel, Eugene Grant QC, said McCullough was a successful businessman in the Castlewellan area who has been married for 43 years. Mr Grant said McCullough feels a high degree of remorse and regret about the case.

The defence barrister said the incidents need to be looked at in the context of McCullough having suffered abuse when he was a child which he said affected the engagement of his “moral compass”.

“He was also taking far too much drink at the time which was clearly affecting his judgement,” added the QC.

“All the reports from the Probation Service and Dr Bownes [a consultant psychiatrist] are that he responded well to the salutary effect of the sentence he received on the last occasion,” he added.

“Since he left prison he has knuckled down and established a very successful business. Since emerging from prison there has been no repeat in the intervening 16-17 years and he has used the years very constructively.

“Prison had a salutary effect on him,” added Mr Grant, who said the pre-sentence report said there is a low risk of him reoffending.

Judge Grant remanded McCullough in custody until this morning while he considers his sentence.