Scandal | 

Sick social worker caught with 400 images of boys as young as seven being raped avoids jail

Astonishingly, the pervert pensioner kept his job after being sentenced to six months in jail for committing sex acts in public toilets back in 1989

Convicted pervert Thomas Caldwell peers out of his front door this week

Steven Moore

This is the snivelling social worker caught downloading more than 400 images of boys as young as seven being raped.

Thomas Shane Caldwell, who called himself 'Fuzzycelt' in online chatrooms with other child perverts, became emotional when confronted at his doorstep this week by the Sunday World, telling us: "Print away and be damned."

But it was the 67-year-old who was damned at Newry Crown Court recently when he was told by a judge that viewing images of child abuse was "not a victimless crime".

"In order for offences like this, some children have to be and are being exploited and persons who engage in this activity provide a market for those willing to exploit children," Judge Gordon Kerr QC told Caldwell.

He also told him that "after a lifetime of working with families, you have disgraced yourself and your reputation".

But he escaped going to prison and was handed a probation order instead.

Our man Steven confronts Caldwell

Astonishingly, it emerged during the court process that the pervert pensioner had been allowed to keep his job as a social worker despite being convicted of committing acts of gross indecency back in 1989.

Indeed 'Creepy' Caldwell only lost his job five years ago when cops raided his house and discovered over 800 indecent images of children.

Caldwell, from Tandragee, Co Armagh, even confessed to police officers who came to arrest him that he'd been watching children being sexually abused for over a decade.

Newry Crown Court heard that Caldwell had been a social worker working with vulnerable families for 30 years but on Wednesday he was quick to correct that pointing out to us: "Actually I was a social worker for 40 years."

When asked how he had kept his social worker job after being sentenced to six months in jail for committing sex acts in public toilets, he told us he "had to jump through hoops" to save his job.

"When I was convicted of those offences, I kept my job by taking a less clinical role and did some management roles, I had to jump through hoops to save my job."

And he said he had "wrecked his life" by his recent "terrible crimes".

"I've wrecked my life, I can't see my own grandchildren. I'm alone and my own reputation is ruined," said Caldwell.

"Of course I deeply regret what I've done. I know they are terrible crimes; I can't explain it, social work is a very stressful job but I'm not using that as an excuse for my behaviour.

"I was in social work for 40 years and I cared for the elderly and the vulnerable and now I have nothing.

"Print all that and be damned."

Sentencing Caldwell, Judge Kerr said while his offences merited a prison sentence, given his clear record, guilty pleas and the fact it's taken five years for the case to get to court, "it is not necessary for me to immediately send you to prison".

At an earlier hearing Caldwell confessed to ten offences of making and possessing indecent images of children between April 9 and December 14, 2019.

In an agreed statement of facts, prosecuting counsel Fiona O'Kane outlined that when police searched Caldwell's home just before Christmas, he immediately told them "I do look at porn. I have looked at younger".

Cops seized a tablet, a phone and two computers and when those items were examined by the PSNI cyber-crime unit, investigators uncovered 853 indecent images of children along with records of online chat logs Caldwell had engaged in with "other like-minded individuals".

Caldwell admitted to police that he had "regularly sought out and viewed indecent images over the preceding 10 years".

"He stated his preference was for young boys aged 12 to 16 and admitted to having viewed images and videos across all the categories as explained to him and claimed to have last done so approximately two weeks prior to his arrest," said Mrs O'Kane, adding that Caldwell claimed his "interest in young boys was abstract and not reality and claimed he had never gone beyond online activity".

Thomas Caldwell

Caldwell admitted he had used names like "fuzzy and blvr - standing for boy lover," when he was in online chat rooms but he denied ever sharing or distributing any material.

Once the seized devices had been examined, Caldwell was interviewed again in October 2020 when the contents of his Skype chats were put to him and he acknowledged using the username "fuzzycelt" during discussions "surrounding imagery of priests abusing altar boys".

"He accepted responsibility for all images found on his devices and accepted he knew most of them were illegal," said Mrs O'Kane, who revealed that despite having worked as a social worker for 30 years, Caldwell had three previous convictions relating to offences of gross indecency in 1989.

Caldwell was 34 years old when he was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and the court heard on Tuesday how those offences involved "young men meeting together in public conveniences".

Lodging a plea in mitigation, defence counsel Tony Lunny said that despite being married, Caldwell had been "living a double life... unfortunately bisexuality seems to have been an issue from an early stage".

The offences, he told the court, had resulted in Caldwell's marriage falling apart - "his wife is leaving him" - he has been barred from seeing his grandchild and there's been a fall from grace by losing his "high-powered job" with his social services.

Imposing the probation order, Judge Kerr warned creepy Caldwell that "you must do what you are told to by the PBNI otherwise you will be brought back here and resentenced".

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos