Northern Ireland

Former youth worker and guitar maker confesses to upskirting and having images of children being sexually abused

Stephen McIlwrath appeared at Craigavon court on Wednesday. Picture by Pacemaker
Stephen McIlwrath appeared at Craigavon court on Wednesday. Picture by Pacemaker Stephen McIlwrath appeared at Craigavon court on Wednesday. Picture by Pacemaker

A FORMER youth worker and guitar maker for global music stars has confessed to upskirting and having images of children being sexually abused.

Stephen McIlwrath was due to go on trial at Craigavon Crown Court but defence counsel Damien Halleron asked for 12 of the 13 charges to be put to the 62-year-old again.

McIlwrath entered guilty pleas to 11 charges of making or possessing a total of 176 indecent photographs of children and one charge of outraging public decency "by recording upskirt images of an unknown female" on a date unknown between 1 July 2016 and 30 May 2018.

McIlwrath, from Breton View in Lisburn and founder and managing director of Avalon Guitars in Newtownards, told the court while he was admitting guilt as regards the upskirting, "the dates are wrong".

Judge Patrick Lynch KC said as long as McIlwrath was accepting his guilt "the dates are irrelevant" and can be amended following submissions.

After the brief re-arraignment, prosecuting counsel asked for a further charge of possessing indecent images "with a view" to either show or distribute them to others to be "left on the books", which Judge Lynch acceded to.

Until recently McIlwrath was the voluntary business advisor for youth charity Young Enterprise NI (YENI) and previously a spokesman for the NI Conservative Party.

According to the Avalon Guitars website, the company’s guitars are used by a host of globally recognised artists including Van Morrison, Ed Sheeran, The Corrs, Bruce Springsteen, Def Leppard, Bob Geldof and Sinead O’Connor.

In court, Judge Lynch adjourned passing sentence to allow time for a probation pre-sentence report to be compiled.

Mr Halleron also said the defence would be lodging medical and psychiatric reports.

While the judge freed McIlwrath on bail until March 21, he warned it was "no indication whatsoever as to the outcome of the case".