April 2022

Carlisle sex offender breached court order by dressing as Santa

A sex offender breached a court order when he dressed up as Santa Claus and gave presents to children at a church Christmas party he helped to arrange.

Darren McGuinness, 48, of Fairfield Gardens, Carlisle, was convicted in May 2011 for downloading indecent images of children.

When sentenced he was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order aimed at preventing repeat offending.

At Carlisle Magistrates’ Court, he admitted two breaches of the order.

Court papers showed that on 30 October McGuiness organised and attended a family Halloween party in the city.

Weeks later, on 18 December, he dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out gifts to children inside a makeshift grotto at a church Christmas party.

In both cases, he was aware there would be under-16s present at the functions in Carlisle.

Prosecutor Malcolm Isherwood said: “He has, in the view of the Crown, deliberately placed himself in situations whereby he was going to come into contact with children under the age of those specified in the order [16 years].

“He did so by starting to attend a church and he there volunteered to work in the community kitchen without disclosing this conviction.

“He then offered to organise a family Halloween party at the church and in December he helped to organise and run a family Christmas party, including him playing the role of Santa Claus in the grotto.”

District Judge John Temperley committed the case for sentence to Carlisle Crown Court.

McGuinness is due to appear on 13 May and was granted unconditional bail in the meantime.

January 2020

Suspended jail for Carlisle sex offender

A convicted Carlisle sex offender illegally used a computer which was not equipped with police monitoring software.

The city’s Rickergate court heard that Darren Paul McGuinness, 45, was made the subject of a strict Sexual Harm Prevention Order after he was convicted in 2011 of downloading indecent images of children.

The court order prohibited him from using any internet connected device that does not have police monitoring software.

The court heard how the defendant, of Fairfield Gardens, Carlisle, was allowed to use a computer when he attended a unemployed persons’ support group in Carlisle city centre.

On September 12 last year, he went to the group. After he left, a worker discovered that the defendant had used the computer for both job hunting and also for using Facebook and researching caravan sites in Blackpool, he said.

The defendant admitted breaching his Sexual Harm Prevention Order by doing this. He had flouted the order on four previous occasions, the court heard.

Jeff Smith, for McGuinness, said the defendant was unable to use his own laptop because of the police monitoring software and he had asked the police to help him overcome that problem.

The lawyer said: “He used the computer for entirely innocent purposes.” He had planned to take a relative for a caravan holiday in Blackpool for his birthday.

The lawyer added: “He hasn’t been able to get employment because as soon as he discloses his previous convictions, employers are no longer interested.”

District Judge Gerald Chalk told McGuinness: “This has been a deliberate breach of the order, although I accept there is no evidence to suggest [the computer] was used for inappropriate purposes.”

The judge imposed a 120-day jail but suspended the sentence for a year. McGuinness must do 100 hours of unpaid work in the community. He imposed costs of £85 and a £120 victim surcharge.

The judge added: “Any further offence in the next 12 months is likely to trigger the 120 days prison.”

December 2011

A Brampton man convicted in May of downloading child pornography has admitted breaching a court order – by viewing adult porn on his computer.

Darren Paul McGuinness, 37, committed the offence just seven months after he admitted 11 charges of possessing child porn.

At Carlisle Magistrates’ Court yesterday, he admitted an act that put him in breach of an order imposed by the judge prohibited McGuinness from accessing the internet without a secure programme fitted.

The court heard that between November 1 and December 8 police were told that McGuinness, of Wilson Homes, Milton, Brampton, was seen in public with a laptop computer

May 2011

A Carlisle man who used his computer to download more than 100 indecent images of children wrote a series of disturbing stories fantasising about a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

Police raided the Aglionby Street home of Darren McGuiness after being tipped off by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (CEOP).

Despite his stories describing a fictitious schoolgirl’s sexual behaviour with a man of his own age, McGuiness insisted he was interested only in adult pornography, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

McGuiness, who has lately been living in Milton, near Brampton, pleaded guilty at the city’s crown court to 11 charges of possessing child pornography.

Most of the pictures involved – 92 – were of level one, the lowest grade on the official five-grade scale.

But 18 were of level three and 11 were of level four, the second most serious level of depravity.

Prosecuting counsel Charlotte Holland told the court investigations showed that McGuiness found the pictures by carrying out internet searches on his computer. She agreed with Judge Paul Batty QC that the pictures mentioned in the charges were only part of a “considerable amount of material” found at McGuiness’s home.

In mitigation, defence barrister Greg Hoare described the case as “a somewhat difficult and troubling one”.

He said that McGuiness now accepted that each picture he had enjoyed represented the abuse of a real child, though he had not realised that at the time. He said McGuiness had sought solace in such pictures because he “suffered from a degree of social isolation”.

Mr Hoare said: “He is anxious to try to do whatever he can to ensure that he takes whatever treatment he can to remedy the situation. He recognises that substantial steps need to be taken.”

He argued that jailing McGuiness would do no good, since any sentence would be too short for him to receive meaningful treatment.

Passing sentence, Judge Paul Batty QC said that if McGuiness indulges in such disgusting behaviour in the future he will be jailed.

He imposed a three-year community order, with three years supervision, banned the defendant from ever working with children, and put him on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.