July 2023

‘Upskirting’ accused had 1,000 indecent images on his phone

A former school bus driver from Tyrone admitted to police that he took around 1,000 ‘upskirting’ photographs and videos of women and underage girls while caravaning on the north coast, a court has heard.

Robert John James Arnold (46), of Colhoun Terrace, Mountjoy, just outside Omagh, is charged with committing an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency by taking underskirt photographs of girls, possessing an indecent photograph of children and making an indecent photograph of a child.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between July 23, 2019 and April 20, 2022.

Arnold appeared before Strabane Magistrates Court last Thursday, via videolink from Omagh custody suite, for a bail application, following his arrest the previous day. The court heard that the police discovered the images after searching Arnold’s phone as part of another investigation.

During police interview, the defendant admitted that he had 923 pictures and 77 videos of ‘upskirting’ young schoolgirls and women.

He further admitted to downloading images of both Class A and B child pornography and making pseudo-images of child pornography.

The court heard that, when officers asked Arnold if he was attracted to children, he replied, “As I get older those are the sort of images I am attracted to, along with slimly-built women.”

He admitted his guilt to all three charges against him during interview, the court heard.

A PSNI officer told the court that the ‘upskirting’ images were taken while Arnold visited a family-owned caravan on the north coast.

The officer said that the Mountjoy man admitted travelling into Portrush and taking ‘upskirting’ images and videos of both young girls and children, many in their school uniforms.

He also admitted to downloading and creating child pornography.

During the bail application, it was stated that Arnold, who is currently unemployed, had previously worked as a school bus driver.

The court heard that the defendant had been discovered by ‘paedophile hunter’ websites and that a protest outside the caravan park he stayed in was being organised.

Describing the case as “deeply concerning”, District Judge Alana McSorley refused bail due to the risk of re-offending and for Arnold’s safety.

He was remanded in custody to appear before Omagh Magistrates Court on July 18.