Northern Ireland news

Co Down teacher Glenn Stranex awaits sentencing for sex offences and child cruelty

Glenn Stranex (51) at a previous court hearing

Disgraced Co Down teacher Glenn Stranex who was allowed to remain in his post despite allegations of "inappropriate behaviour / physical contact with pupils", will find out on Wednesday if he is to be jailed for a series of sex offences.

The 53-year-old children's author, teacher and leading hockey coach and umpire faces sentence on a total of 11 charges, on differing dates from September 1989 to September 2016.

They include two of child cruelity, one of voyeurism, seven of making indecent images of children and one of possesing 25 other indecent images of children.

Stranex, from Cairnsville Road in Bangor, had originially faced eight more serious charges, including the indecent assault of one girl, and incititing a second child to commit an act of gross indecenty.  However, they were allowed to 'remain on the books' following his guilty pleas to the other charges.

Prosecution lawyer Laura Levers revealed that the primary schoolteacher, was reported to police by Social Services in September 2016 after he was suspended amid fresh allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Stranex had already been subject to disciplinary proceedings in the past, and given a final warning, which remained on his file, although he "was allowed to teach but conditionally".

When police searched his classroom and home and took away a number of items, including computers, laptops and harddrives, Stranex told officers: "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry".

Ms Ievers told Belfast Crown Court that the guilty pleas from Stranex, who also coached the Ulster under-16 hockey team, and was also the youth officer for the under-15 girls, were "welcome pleas in a sensitive and detailed case".

Counsel said the cruelity charges arose out of statements made by two former pupils, who detailed how, in one case he "behaved inappropriately towards" the child, then aged nine or ten, and "the experience made her feel uncomfortable", although he treated her as "a favourite".

In the second case, Stranex, who also coached Randalstown Ladies First XI, tried to "cultivate an inappropriate relationship" with the girl, which included games involving "trying to kiss him on the lips", while on other occasions he would ridicule her which "often made her feel uneasy or embarrassed".

The indecent images recovered from his computer equipment were of the lower Catagory C, some showing girls in their full hockey kit in various poses.

The voyerism charge stemmed from images of  a "young female" undressing in an upstairs room.  Stranex later claimed he had been taking "pictures of the moon and the images resulted form his efforts to refocus the camera".

Defence QC Gavin Duffy said that while Stranex's offending coincided with the "early stages of his career .... he has taught many hundreds of pupils" and his offending related to only "two of his pupils".

His offending amounted, he said, to an "over tactile familarity with these girls, which caused them distress", adding that Stranex had "failed to keep the proper physical boundaries" in their cases.

Turning to the charges involving the indecent images, Mr Duffy said they a "small handful of images", found amount thousands of images taken by Stranex, "a keen prolific photographer".

Counsel also revealed that Stranex, who has attempted suicide three times, accepts that he will be unable to return to his work as a teacher and that his "good reputation is now in tatters", but that by his guilty pleas he spared his two victims the "considerable burden of giving evidence".

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