Monday 26 September 2016

Pictures show convicted paedophile's publicly-funded trip to amusement arcade packed with kids

Ciaran Barnes

Published 04/07/2016 | 18:31

Convicted paedophile Philip Hull’s trip to Barry’s in Portrush was publicly funded
Convicted paedophile Philip Hull’s trip to Barry’s in Portrush was publicly funded

These photos show a convicted paedophile mixing with children at a well-known amusement arcade.

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But amazingly Philip Hull’s trip to Barry’s in Portrush, Co Antrim was publicly funded - and officially approved.

An undercover Sunday Life team watched as the convicted paedophile fooled around on the dodgems after being driven from his Belfast bail hostel in a mini-bus along with other offenders.

He laughed as he bumped into nearby kids and queued behind them as he awaited his turn on the fairground attractions.

Hull, who is from the Shore Road in north Belfast, was jailed for one year in 2013 after being caught with 27 sickening images of youngsters being abused.

He is currently out on probation and holed up in the Centenary House hostel in Belfast where he is subject to an order that bans him from having any unapproved interaction with children.

But the court ruling did not stop staff there whisking him off to Portrush to spend a day at Barry’s Amusements in the company of kids.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell criticised the Probation Service, which is supposed to be monitoring Hull, for failing to prevent his trip to the north coast.

“Anyone with responsibility for looking after sex offenders should have thought long and hard about this trip and vetoed it,” said the politican.

“Portrush is exceptionally family friendly and I fully understand the anger of any parent whose child was caught up in this.”

A Probation Service spokeswoman last night confirmed it is carrying out an urgent “review” after being made aware of Sunday Life’s investigation.

She said: “In relation to the circumstances highlighted, probation staff are reviewing the details with staff at Centenary House.

“The Probation Service use approved accommodation such as Centenary House to assist us in the supervision of offenders who have served their prison sentence and been released into the community.

“The use of approved accommodation provides additional safeguards rather than having someone simply return to their own accommodation.

“Approved accommodation such as Centenary house is highly valued by all those working in public protection.”

Paedophile Philip Hull’s trip to the seaside started off early last Wednesday morning when he clambered on board a bus at the Salvation Army run Centenary House in Belfast city centre.

The hostel has been his home for the past two years since he was freed from prison after serving a one year sentence for possessing horrific child abuse images.

The pervert was among a group of five offenders, not all of whom are paedophiles, who were taken to the north-coast for the day on a jaunt organised by Centenary House.

Sunday Life is aware that another member of the group was a convicted sex offender, but we cannot name him for legal reasons.

After the bus carrying Hull stopped outside Barry’s Amusements Hull climbed off it and went for an hour long walk around Portrush before visiting the iconic arcade.

Sunday Life reporters discreetly watched as the chld sex offender queued behind school-kids awaiting his turn on the bumper cars.

Despite the rain Portrush was packed with kids, with many having travelled by coach on trips organised by schools and summer schemes.

After spending 30 minutes in Barry’s Hull went to a nearby cafe for lunch. The food was paid for by Centenary House staff who were on the trip to supervise him.

He then walked back to Barry’s, hanging around the amusement arcade for 15 minutes before getting on the bus which drove to nearby Portstewart.

Hull spent an hour in the town, dandering along the seafront to the Dominican College convent where he performed an about turn and walked to Morelli’s for ice-cream. After enjoying a cone, he returned to the bus which drove him home to Centenary House in Belfast.

Worryingly this was not the first day out to a child friendly location that Hull has enjoyed. Last month he was part of a group that travelled from his hostel to Tollymore Forest in Co. Down.

The sun was shining during his trip there and the woods were filled with groups of children, many of whom were on school outings with their unsuspecting teachers.

During the jaunt Hull was taken for lunch at a KFC in Newcastle and scoffed fried chicken next to a table packed with kids.

A source who tipped off this newspaper about Hull’s outings expressed astonishment that he was taken to locations so popular with families.

“The decision to bring him to Barry’s Amusements and Tollymore Forest beggars belief. Who in their right minds thought this was a good idea? Heads should roll over this,” said the insider.

“Philip Hull is a man who is not allowed to leave Centenary House in the mornings and afternoons because there are children about going to and from school.

“Yet someone decided it was a good idea to bring Hull to some of the most popular children’s attractions in Northern Ireland. It’s madness.”

Our source explained how Hull’s day trips were funded by public cash and that he was given free lunches and tokens for the dodgems at Barry’s Amusements.

“The trip supervisors had a £10 allocation for him to spend on his lunch. They also gave him free tokens for the attractions at Barry’s,” added the insider.

“It’s sickening really. I’m sure there are thousands of good parents out there who would love to take their kids to the seaside but cannot afford it, yet a convicted child sex offender like Philip Hull gets to enjoy it all for free.”

Hull was jailed for one year in 2013 after being caught with 27 sickening computer images of children being sexually abused.

After his arrest he quickly left his home on Waveney Drive off Belfast’s Shore Road to avoid angry locals.

One female neighbour told Sunday Life that he admitted his crimes before fleeing.

She said: “A group of residents went to Hull’s door to confront him after details about his court case appeared in the paper and he admitted everything. We were all glad to see the back of him.”

After being freed from prison Hull, who is on probation until 2017, moved to Centenary House.

He had been working on a training scheme at a Newtownabbey recycling firm but hostel sources say that he is now unemployed.

Belfast Telegraph

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