A FORMER school chef living a double life which his family knew nothing about, has changed his plea to child sex charges he previously denied, just as a jury was about to be sworn in for trial.
Kevin Thomas Breen (58), from Freughmore Road, Fintona, was accused of multiple charges involving a male child.
With a jury ready to be sworn at Dungannon Crown Court for a trial to get underway, defence lawyers requested some time for legal discussions.
Around an hour later, Breen was re-arraigned and admitted sexually assaulting the child, communicating with him for sexual gratification and causing him to watch sexual activity.
The remaining matters, including rape, were left on the court books.
Offending occurred on dates between July 1 and October 23, 2020.
Judge Peter Irvine KC decided pre-sentence reports were required and remanded Breen in continuing custody while these are prepared.
He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register, the duration of which will be decided at sentencing which is scheduled to take place in March.
When first arrested, Breen was brought before Dungannon Magistrates Court where a detective constable explained the child victim received online communications from Breen, asking to add him to his Snapchat as ‘Hunterlads’.
Thinking he was a similar age, the boy did so and they exchanged messages on general topics such as football.
Initially there was no sexual communication. However, in September 2020, the boy went for a walk and during this, Breen approached saying, “You probably don’t recognise me. I’m the one from Snapchat.”
Scared that a random stranger was talking to him, the boy turned to go home, but this became the first of several incidents in which Breen sexually assaulted him and followed this up with sexualised communications.
During police interview after he was arrested, Breen accepted using the Grindr dating app and regularly meeting men for casual sex. He confirmed Snapchatting with the boy but claimed to believe he was about 18.
When told his correct age, Breen confirmed knowing the boy was at school but added, “You can be 18 and still at school.”
He denied committing any offences, although accepted ownership of the boots, gloves and other items which he hid from his family as they didn’t know about his lifestyle.
The defence said Breen’s employment would be terminated as result of the charges and he was, “very upset a side of life he kept from his wife and family is now exposed”.
When the detective informed the court bail was not opposed, the judge was shocked, remarking, “I completely disagree with the police decision on bail. It should very definitely be opposed. Given what I’ve heard, the risk is too great.”
Breen has been remanded in custody ever since.
It is understood that, on the basis of the accepted charges and time served on remand, Breen could soon be released.