East Belfast man caught in ‘paedophile hunters’ sting sentenced

Ticket and information booth closed at Lanyon Place Station due to Translink strikes
-Credit: (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

An East Belfast man whose home was searched by the PSNI following a ‘paedophile hunters’ sting operation was made the subject of a three-year Probation Order today (Thursday).

Paul Larmour, 55, from Albertbridge Road, was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court for possessing over 3,000 indecent images of children. Setting out the background, Judge Philip Gilpin said that in August 2019 Larmour began chatting online to a female called ‘Molly’.

These chats continued on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and became sexual in nature. The profile of ‘Molly’ was actually an adult female who was acting as a volunteer for an online ‘paedophile hunter’ group.

These online chats culminated in Lamour arranging to meet ‘Molly’ at Lanyon train station in Belfast on February 9, 2020 - and as a result of the sting operation, when Larmour arrived at Lanyon he was arrested by the PSNI.

Following his arrest, Larmour’s home was searched and a number of electronic devices were seized. After an examination, 3,314 indecent images of children were located on three of the devices along with four extreme pornographic images.

During a police interview on October 12, 2022 Larmour accepted the devices were his and that he had searched for the images in question. The part-time dog walker also told a Probation Officer that due to loneliness he visited online porn sites and chat rooms.

He also told Probation that he had been drinking at the time and wanted to chat to girls. He subsequently pleaded guilty to 13 counts of possessing indecent images of children and two counts of possessing an extreme pornographic image on dates between March 31, 2016 and February 10, 2020.

Judge Gilpin said this was a case of possessing as opposed to making or distributing the images in question. A defence barrister spoke of the delay in the case, pointing out that following her client’s arrest in February 2020 it took over four years for the case to come to court.

Branding this delay as “significant”, she added that in the four years since his arrest “there has been no further offending”.

A Crown barrister said it was accepted there has been a delay which he attributed to both Covid and the number of electrical devices that had to be examined.

When asked about the images found these devices, the prosecutor confirmed that most were stills but there were a “small number” of videos.

As he sentenced Larmour, Judge Gilpin said: “The opportunities that modern technology offers are many, for education and communication, but there is sadly a dark side to it that involves corruption and exploitation.”

Judge Gilpin said he has considered defence submissions which includes Larmour’s clear criminal record and lack of further offending.

Imposing the three-year Probation Order, the Judge then granted a Crown application to destroy all the devices seized from Larmour’s home.

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