Northern Ireland

Gary Carruthers: Police reassure parents after child abuse images case

Gary Carruthers Image copyright Alan Lewis-Photopress Belfast
Image caption Gary Carruthers, a former caretaker at a primary school, was caught with 30,000 indecent images of children

The police have moved to reassure parents at a County Down school after a former caretaker was convicted of superimposing pictures of children onto those of others being sexually abused.

Gary Carruthers, 35, admitted his guilt and was jailed on Wednesday.

Ch Supt George Clarke said PSNI officers had identified the children in the photos held by Carruthers and have already spoken to their parents.

He said none of those in the images had reported "contact offending".

Mr Clarke also reassured parents of children at the school that Carruthers had not shared the images with anyone else.

Carruthers was caught by police with about 30,000 indecent images of children, some of the victims were as young as two years old.

In a safe at his home, detectives also found computer discs and storage devices, manuals on how to abuse children, and even classroom registers.

Guilty

He pleaded guilty to possessing the indecent images and was sentenced to three years in prison.

At the time of his arrest, parents at his former workplace were sent a note explaining that there was a child safeguarding issue at the school.

Some parents have told the BBC they were not given enough information about the arrest and trial of the part-time cleaner at their child's school for such serious crimes against children.

They also expressed concern about images of their children being distributed online, with one father asking: "Is my wee girl's face on computer screens in other countries?"

Mr Clarke advised parents at the school that if they have not been contacted by police at this stage, they should not be concerned.

Image caption Ch Supt George Clarke said PSNI officers had identified the children in the photos held by Carruthers and have already spoken to their parents

The officer told the BBC that Carruthers "used one of those images to manufacture an image of abuse".

"So he took an abuse image he manufactured on the image of a child at the school.

"He also had a number of other images of children at the school, so any child that is in that group we have identified.

"We have spoken to the child and their parents and none of those have disclosed contact offending, so that should be a reassurance to the parents that we haven't spoken to that they're not in that category."

"It's also very important to note that there's no suggestion whatsoever that he was involved in distribution of these images," he added.

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