Lagan College welfare officer Neil Beckett in court accused of abusing a dozen girls

The student health and welfare officer of Lagan College has appeared in court accused of sexual abusing a dozen girls.

Standing in the dock of Belfast Magistrates' Court wearing a dark brown coat, 42-year-old Neil Beckett nodded to confirm that he understood the 13 offences against him.

Following a five-month investigation by the PSNI Public Protection Unit Beckett, from Kilmore Village in Downpatrick, faces an indictment of 13 sex offences alleged to have been committed on dates between October last year to February this year including 11 charges of abusing a position of trust to incite the alleged victims to engage in sexual activity and two of sexual assault.

Beckett is the health and welfare officer, as well as being the medical officer, at Lagan College in south Belfast and the court heard the 42-year-old is “currently suspended” from his job.

The 11 abuse charges allege that Becket “intentionally caused or incited [the victim], a child under 18 to engage in sexual activity and at the time, you were in a position of trust over the said child” while the charges of sexual assault accuse Beckett of sexually touching two females when he “did not reasonably believe the complaint so consented”.

In court today on Tuesday, a police detective constable gave evidence that he believed he could connect Beckett to each of the charges while a prosecuting lawyer revealed that “evidence is still being collated” so he was seeking a four-week adjournment.

The prosecution lawyer also revealed that while “technically” the case against Beckett is not a protocol case, the directing officer in the PPS “she’s treating it in the spirit of a protocol case” in order to expedite the case.

Freeing Beckett on bail, District Judge Steven Keown adjourned the case to 11 July indicating that if he was not able to fix a date for a Preliminary Enquiry at that stage, he will want to know why not.

Beckett is still listed on the Lagan College website as its student health and welfare officer. When approached for a response the school said it would not be commenting at this stage.

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