Northern Ireland

Co Antrim pensioner appears in court remotely from sick bed to be sentenced for indecent images offences

John Fredrick Kane (79) from Whitehead pleaded guilty to 19 offences

Kieran Fox (second from left), son of Eamon Fox, is comforted during a press conference outside Belfast Crown Court by a family member as he gives reaction to James Smyth being found not guilty of the murders of his father Eamon Fox and Gary Convie in 1994
The pensioner appeared remotely to Belfast Crown Court from his sick bed (Liam McBurney/PA)

A pensioner who appeared in court remotely from his sick bed has been sentenced for indecent images offences.

John Fredrick Kane (79) from Shawfield Lane, Whitehead, was handed an eight-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He pleaded guilty to 19 offences arising from images and videos located on various devices seized during a search of his home in February 2017.

A request by Kane’s solicitor Paul Farrell to allow him to appear via videolink was granted by Judge Mark McGarrity and when the link was turned on, Kane appeared on the screen lying in his bed with an oxygen mask on.

Belfast Crown Court heard that on February 9, 2017 police searched Kane’s home and a number of electronic devices including a laptop, tablet and memory stick were seized.

Police found 349 indecent images of children, 833 extreme pornographic images along with 12 prohibited images.

Kane pleaded guilty to nine counts of making indecent images of children, five counts of possessing prohibited images and five counts of possessing extreme pornographic images.

Judge McGarrity said whilst there was no evidence the images were distributed or shown to anyone else by Kane, the depictions in the images were “of scenes that would cause disgust and sorrow in any right-thinking person”.

The Judge said he had taken into consideration defence submissons, which highlighted Kane’s long working history which ended due to ill health and his expressions of remorse.

Regarding Kane’s ill health, he suffered a severe spinal injury in the past and now has life-threatening conditions including chronic kidney disease and cardiac failure.

The Judge said whilst a custodial sentence was justified, he had taken into account delays in the case coming to court, the “fragility” of Kane’s health and impact on his wife, who is in ill health.

Imposing an eight-month sentence, which was suspended for 18 months, in addition Judge McGarrity made Kane the subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.