Broughshane sex offender Philip Kirk (21) with string of convictions since age of 16 is given more jail time | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

Philip Kirk entered guilty pleas to 12 charges of possessing indecent photographs of children.

Imposing a one year jail sentence and an extension period of 18 months on licence, Judge Alastair Devlin told Philip Kirk that given the catalogue of sex offences he had committed since the age of 16, “its hardly surprising the probation board have assessed you as a dangerous offender.”

The Antrim Crown Court judge said the downloading and possessing of images “should not be regarded by you or anyone else as a victimless crime.”

“If not for the market of appalling material, a market in which you and others participate in, vulnerable children both here and across the world would simply not be subjected to exploitation and sexual degradation,” the judge told Kirk.

At an earlier hearing Kirk, originally from Broughshane but now with an address at a probation run hostel in Belfast, entered guilty pleas to 12 charges of possessing indecent photographs of children.

Before the case was called Kirk, who appeared by videolink from Hydebank YOC, was seen smiling, laughing and joking as he waited for his case to be called but as Judge Devlin rehearsing the facts of his offending, he became less animated.

The judge outlined that on 14 August 2020 and on foot of information that an email address linked to him had uploaded an indecent image, police searched Kirk’s home and seized a mobile phone.

When that phone was examined, officers uncovered 258 indecent images of children including 32 category A images which, according to legal guidelines, depict children involved in penetrative sexual acts including rape.

The examination also uncovered however that Kirk had 23 category C images of a girl who police were able to identify and take a statement from, establishing that she was just 12-years-old at the time.

Arrested and interviewed, Kirk made admissions to having sent and received photos to the identified victim, claiming they were in a relationship at the time prior to the phone being seized but when police probed this he made “No comment” answers to further questions.

Turning to Kirk’s criminal record Judge Devlin recounted that despite being only 21-years-old, he had already amassed 26 convictions all of which were sex offences with his first coming when he was just 16.

The pre-sentence report recounts that despite a range of “increasingly severe sanctions” from the courts, along external controls such as licence conditions, sexual offences prevention orders and probation orders, “his risk has not been reduced or effectively managed.”

One of those sanctions came at the same courthouse last November when Kirk was jailed for two years and given an extra three years on licence for a total of nine sex offences including two counts of breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, three of having indecent images of a child and single offences of sexual communication with a child, inciting child sexual activity and intentionally encouraging or assisting in the distribution of a indecent image of a child, all committed over two days on 1 and 2 June 2021.

In that case, Kirk exchanged more than 200 snapchat messages with a 13-year-old disabled girl where he started by asking her for images of herself but developed into the creep instructing her to perform sex acts on herself, to video it and to send him the recordings.

The court heard then that Kirk was first accused of “engaging in sexually harmful behaviour” at school by a 14-year-old pupil and although unsubstantiated, that had lead to Kirk being tutored for two hours a day, “constantly under supervision,” leaving him spending lots of time in his bedroom, alone, listening to music or going online and watching pornography.

In 2017, a 15-year-old girl accused Kirk of sexually assaulting her and although that was not proceeded with, investigators discovered indecent images of children.

Chillingly, a further investigation uncovered that Kirk had gained access to a Snapchat group of primary school children, asking three girls aged eight-13 for naked photos.

While undergoing “therapeutic intervention,” the authorities discovered that Kirk had infiltrated the group a second time and was again preying on one of the same young schoolgirls, asking her for photos and videos of herself.

When Kirk was 17 he was convicted of inciting child sexual activity and having indecent images of a child and it was those convictions which lead to the SOPO.

According to a report from a consultant psychiatrist, Kirk maintained that “he has no sexual interest in children” but rather “is an impulsive person, rejects authority and isn’t going to be told what he could or should do.”

In court today Judge Devlin said while he had not been provided with a victim impact statement from the girl who had been identified, “cases involving indecent images of children undoubtedly cause harm.”

In addition to the jail sentence and extended period on licence, the judge also ordered Kirk to sign the police sex offenders register for the rest of his life and imposed a seven year sexual offences prevention order.

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