Lecturer kills self to avoid court date

January 23, 1998

A University of Ulster lecturer committed suicide a few days before he was due to appear in court last June on charges of possessing indecent photographs of children.

An inquest in Belfast heard that Scottish-born Roderick George McLean, 40, had used the Internet to research suicide before killing himself. When his body was discovered six days later, computer material and a note relating to his death were found nearby.

A customs official told the hearing that a mail-order magazine from Germany, said to have featured pictures of naked children under the age of 16, was intercepted on its way to Mr McLean in January last year. A search of his home at Whiteabbey, outside Belfast, found similar material.

The hearing heard that because the pictures did not show children engaged in sexual activities, the charges against Mr McLean, who had no convictions, were at the "lower end of the scale". But a custodial sentence would have been an option for the judge presiding.

Belfast coroner John Leckey said the court case would hurt Mr McLean's career "and he decided to take this terrible course".

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