Northern Ireland

Retired police officer Eric McIlveen sentenced over child abuse images

Laganside courts
Image caption The retired officer was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court

A retired police officer has been placed on three years probation after child abuse images were found on his computer equipment.

Eric McIlveen, 71, - who served in the police for 30 years - was also made the subject of a seven-year Sexual Offenders Prevention Order (SOPO).

McIlveen, of Stirling Road in Belfast, was caught with 353 indecent images of children along with two videos.

A majority were said to be in the lowest category of seriousness.

A prosecutor told Belfast Crown Court that McIlveen's home was searched on 6 May, 2015 by officers acting on information that indecent images were being accessed from that address.

McIlveen's computer and laptop were seized and the images were located following a forensic examination of the equipment.

The pensioner admitted to police that he had clicked on images of young children, but claimed he had then deleted them.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to 12 counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, and of possessing an extremely pornographic image.

A defence solicitor said McIlveen came before the court with a clear criminal record and that when police first arrived at his client's home, McIlveen "made it clear it was him they needed to speak to".

He told the court McIlveen was remorseful and had shown insight.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC spoke of the "serious abuse" suffered by the children in the images and video "in order to satisfy the interests of people like this defendant." He also branding McIlveen's offending as "unacceptable."