Newcastle couple remanded on child sex abuse charges

Newcastle couple remanded on child sex abuse charges

7 February 2018

A NEWCASTLE couple have appeared in court charged with historical child sex abuse offences.

Gary Talbot (58), a Translink bus driver, faces two charges of raping a child under the age of five. His wife, 57-year-old Heather Talbot, a contract cleaner in a local school, is accused of aiding and abetting rape.

The couple, from Kinghill Avenue, both face further charges of gross indecency with a child, aiding and abetting gross indecency, inciting gross indecency and indecent assault. They are also accused of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children online.

The abuse allegedly took place at their home around 15 years ago. Up to 500,000 indecent images of children were found following a search of their house in October last year.

Both defendants are in custody following their appearance at Downpatrick Court on Thursday.

Bail was initially granted to Heather Talbot, but following an appeal by 

the Public Prosecution Service to the High Court on Friday, this bail was revoked.

At Thursday’s hearing in Downpatrick, a detective constable outlined the background to the case as she opposed bail for Heather Talbot.

A number of devices, including computers and a laptop, had been seized, she said, after last October’s search of the couple’s house, which was part of a separate investigation.

Images were then uncovered, which she claimed showed “Gary and Heather Talbot engaging in sexual activity with a child aged two to four at their home address in Newcastle”.

She said that despite the efforts of police, they had not been able to make contact with the victim at this stage.

She told the court that during police interviews which followed the couple’s arrest, Gary Talbot made a number of admissions and said his wife was present during some of the incidents.

Turning to Heather Talbot’s police interviews, the officer said Mrs Talbot “said she had never seen the child”. 

“Later in interview she did identify the victim,” the detective continued.

“She admitted she had dressed 

the child for her husband,” the detective said, but added that the woman claimed not to know what happened after that.

The court also heard details of the couple’s purported internet history. The detective said there was evidence the couple had distributed images and had been “communicating with like-minded individuals on the dark web”.

An uncovered “written document graphically describing abuse to a two to three-year-old child” was also of concern to police, the detective said.

In relation to chat logs found on the couple’s computer, the detective said Heather Talbot admitted she had accessed adult sites with her husband, but denied she had any discussions about the sexual abuse of children.

The detective said she feared if Heather Talbot was released on bail she would attempt to interfere with the investigation.

In response, a defence solicitor said Mrs Talbot was a “very respectable” member of the community.

“This is a lady in her late fifties with no previous convictions,” he said. “She denies the offences. “She has given a full account to police.”

District Judge Eamon King noted that the couple faced the “most serious charges” involving allegations of child sexual abuse. 

For reasons including her clear record, Mr King released Heather Talbot on bail, but with numerous conditions,including barring her from having any contact with a child and prohibiting her access to any electronic device.

However, the bail was revoked at the High Court on Friday when a prosecution lawyer, Mr Philip Henry said that up to 500,000 indecent images of children were found following a search of the couple’s home.

Opposing her release, Mr Henry said Heather Talbot was just as active a participant as her husband.

No bail application was made for Gary Talbot who was remanded in custody to appear back in court on March 1.