Man said to be IRA agent Stakeknife pleads guilty to porn charges

A man accused of being the notorious IRA double agent 'Stakeknife' during the Troubles has today admitted possessing extreme pornographic images of animals.  
Freddie Scappaticci, now 72, reputedly led the IRA's internal security unit, known as the 'nutting squad', while also passing on information to British forces. 
He has always strongly denied the allegation that he was a mole, despite being widely named in 2003. 
Scappaticci was this week charged with possession of extreme pornographic images and appeared before Westminster Magistrates today.
The court heard the charges related to at least 329 images, including some involving animals, although were no images involving children.
Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot sentenced Scappaticci to three months in custody, suspended for 12 months.
She said: 'You have not been before the court for 50 years - and that's good character in my book.' 
Scappaticci - who it was previously claimed was being kept in a safehouse - wore a blue fleece and green tracksuit bottoms and spoke with an Irish accent to enter his pleas.
Chief magistrate, Ms Arbuthnot, added: 'I can see you are not a well man at all - you have very serious health issues - and that you live a lonely life.'
The court heard Scappaticci told police he was not sexually interested in animals, and preferred women 'with big breasts'. He told them he was 'not doing anyone any real harm' and said he had depression.
The court heard he used his laptop to search for areas of interests, including 'cars, the British Army, maps, combat, football, politics', but that he also searched for pornography. 
Defending, Richard Whittam QC said the offending took place over 13 days, using 20 search terms.
He said the pornography comprised still images - not moving images - and they were not saved on to his computer.
Former bricklayer Scappaticci was suddenly accused of being Stakeknife when newspapers in Ireland and Scotland published articles naming him in 2003.
He later held a press conference, denying he had ever worked for British Army intelligence or been involved in terrorism.  
Scappaticci, who was reportedly nicknamed 'Scap', was the grandson of an Italian immigrant who moved to Northern Ireland in search of employment.
He lived and worked as a builder in West Belfast and was reportedly interned in the early 1970s alongside Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and a number of other high profile republicans.
It was claimed he joined the IRA as a low level footsoldier before rising through the ranks.
  
In 2012, Northern Ireland General Sir John Wilsey described the agent Stakeknife as 'a golden egg' and the 'jewel in the crown' of intelligence sources. 
Stakeknife was reportedly received payments of up to £80,000 a year for information about kidnappings, bombings and shootings.
It was previously claimed Scappaticci had fled Belfast after he was named in the press.
Today's charges came about as a result of Operation Kenova, a probe by Bedfordshire Police into wrongdoing during the Troubles.
Speaking after the case, Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: 'Today's conviction came about as a result of material recovered during a search conducted by the Kenova team.
'This result is an indication that wherever criminal behaviour is identified during my investigation, evidence will be presented for the purposes of prosecution.
'Operation Kenova continues to recover evidence in relation to our core terms of reference and as and when it is appropriate to speak further, I will do so.'
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