NewsCrime Desk

Child pornographer running sweet shop beside scout jamboree

John Peppard
John Peppard

MEET THE convicted child pornographer running a sweet-shop from his cottage next to the scout jamboree site at Mount Melleray Abbey.

John Peppard joined up with the Chernobyl Children Appeal Ireland (CCAI) organisation before flying child victims in from Belarus for use in his homemade child porn videos.

Despite being jailed for a year and banned from allowing children into his home for a 10-year-period, Peppard this week insisted he is doing nothing wrong by selling toys, ice-cream and sweets out of the property.

When confronted by the Sunday World, the 61-year-old also hit out at those raising concerns over his role in the shop saying: “They’re just jealous I run a successful business.”

Somewhat bizarrely, he also insisted to our reporter, while standing between rows of pocket-money toys, sweets and ice-cream, that the shop “is more of a garden centre really”.

The outside of Peppard’s picturesque whitewashed cottage features enticing adverts for HB ice-cream, while miniature models depict children frolicking on the ground outside.

Our surveillance teams watched as unsuspecting tourists leaving the adjacent Mount Melleray Abbey stopped off afterwards to purchase ice-cream and admire his colourful collection of life-sized religious and garden statues.

Inside, Peppard was all smiles when he greeted our reporter, but after our man identified himself, Peppard’s attitude quickly became defensive.

“It [the shop] is in the family for years,” he said. “It’s always been open. I’ve been running it since [I got out of prison].”

Asked whether there had been any issues involving children since his release, Peppard shook his head and said: “No!”

When it was put to Peppard that people would be worried, given the shop is located just a couple of hundred yards from scout tents at the jamboree site, Peppard insisted: “I don’t deal with the scouts. They have their own shop.

“I have staff here, too, that work with me.”

Questioned as to whether he is still a danger to children, Peppard said: “Of course not. Sure that [the conviction for making child porn] is 10 years ago.”

Our man asked if Peppard had received counselling, to which he answered: “I did of course.”           

When asked whether he was still making child porn videos, the former scout master answered: “No, of course not.”

Peppard was celebrated as a pillar of the local community in Mount Melleray in the noughties for his selfless work with Chernobyl Children Appeal Ireland.

He himself had “sourced” the children in the town of Khoiniki, and brought a number of them to Ireland on an airline used by the charity.

However, the pervert’s veneer of respectability was torn away in June 2003 when a roll of film he left in a chemist in Lismore, Co. Waterford, exposed him as a child predator.

Gardaí were notified and a search of his house uncovered videotapes, photographs and 143 images on a laptop computer of naked boys aged between 10 and 14.

The court heard how Peppard had travelled between Ireland and Belarus for the charity as often as three times a year since 1995.

Sergeant Pauline Sheehan of Dungarvan Garda Station said one of the photos showed Peppard with his belt open while attempting to take off the children’s trousers.

Other images and video footage showed the children naked while swimming or in a shower. The images were made in Ireland and Belarus.

Judge Alice Doyle said she did not accept the defence’s argument that the images were on the low scale of child pornography.

She described Peppard’s behaviour as “most abusive to these children”, adding: “If this had happened to Irish children there would be a public outcry.”

She accepted the accused had apologised to the children and their families.

However, she had difficulty with the fact that he had considered the material “harmless fun”.

She sentenced Peppard, a single man and former insurance broker, to 18 months in prison, with the last six months suspended. He was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and ordered to undergo treatment.

He was further ordered not to have any children aged between eight and 10 in his house for 10 years. He was denied leave to appeal.

Chernobyl Children’s Appeal said Peppard had been “accepted as a host because he was known to former members of the board, a scout leader, and had a strong standing in the community”.

“Mr Peppard has had no association with our charity since July 2003,” they added.

The Chernobyl Children’s Project International (CCPI), headed by Adi Roche and Ali Hewson, issued a statement following Peppard’s conviction saying it had no association with Chernobyl Children’s Appeal.

When it was put to Peppard that one of the conditions of his sentence was that children aged between the ages of eight and 10 would not enter his home, Peppard insisted children do not come into the shop “when I’m working here”.

 “But if parents did [bring them in] the parents would be with them. This as you can see is a garden centre more than a sweet-shop. I don’t know why [someone would contact you]. It’s someone trying to make trouble.

“I’m sure it’s someone jealous of the fact that I’m running a business. Sure I’m harmless.”