Northern Ireland

Youth worker who sexually abused child in his care jailed

John Patrick Paul Beckett (44) admitted one count of sexual communication with a child and three charges of sexual activity

Cain Kilgore (25) of Ivy Mead in Derry appeared at the city's Crown Court

A youth worker has been jailed at Derry Crown Court for sexually abusing a child in his care.

John Patrick Paul Beckett (44), whose address was given to the court, admitted one count of sexual communication with a child on February 24 2023.

He also admitted three charges of sexual activity with a child under 18 which took place on dates between January 1 and February 23 2023.

The court on Friday heard that the victim, who was 14 at the time, said in a statement that following the abuse things “will never be the same again.”

Judge Neil Rafferty KC said that the victim was in care in a children’s home and Beckett was a youth worker employed by the Western health trust attached to the home and as such the case involved a “breach of trust”.

He said that the victim approached a social worker on February 25 2023 and showed her a Snapchat post from the defendant that was “entirely sexual in nature and took place in the early hours of the morning.”

When interviewed Beckett admitted the message.

However, the child was then interviewed and gave details of incidents where the defendant had taken her out and sexual touching had taken place.

She recounted how on one occasion Beckett had taken her to Benone beach and during “play fighting” had rolled on top of her.

Beckett was further interviewed and admitted the incidents but said they “were not sexual in nature”.

Judge Rafferty said the offences were a series of acts that took place on a “very vulnerable person.”

The judge said that the custody threshold had been passed and sentenced Beckett to 13 months in prison.

He also had a Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed for a period of five years and must sign the Sex Offender’s Register for a period of 10 years.