The mother of Ballynure educator William Sholdis, who was caught with photos of children as young as six, says: “He didn’t know they were under 18.”

William Sholdis, 33, was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register last week after admitting a string of charges at Antrim Crown Court.

He pleaded guilty to 18 charges including making indecent images of children, possessing prohibited images of children and extreme pornography.

The titles of some images and videos that are too graphic to publish include the ages of the victims and descriptions of sodomy, as well as the use of the word “underage.”

When When we spoke to Sholdis at his home in the village of Ballynure, County Antrim, he first barked “No!” to our reporter before slamming the door.

Antrim Crown Court

However, as our husband left, Sholdis’ mother, Anne, came to the door and indicated that she wanted to speak on her son’s behalf.

“He didn’t know they were under 18,” she said, as an embarrassed Sholdis crouched just in the doorway behind her.

She continued to insist that her son believed the children were over 18, even though court documents revealed the abused children were believed to be as young as six.

“He didn’t know it was wrong,” she continued: “He thought they were over 18, but they were teenagers and that’s what happened and he admitted it.”

“He is taking courses to help him, he has autism and other disabilities and during lockdown he had gone into an area he was unfamiliar with.

“I know, I see two sides of the story.

“I don’t want anything bad to happen to children. I have my own grandchildren and I don’t want anything to happen to any of them.

“But at the same time, I see that this happened to my son, who is vulnerable and has a disability.”

According to the indictment, Sholdis’ crime spanned between August 2019 and March 2021.

As he stood in the dock at Antrim Crown Court on Monday, he admitted 10 counts of making indecent images of children, six counts of prohibiting images of children and two counts of extreme pornography .

His mother, Anne, revealed that the family had already been chased from the house on foot and said she was fearful of another incident as she advocated for her son’s case.

She said: “Where we lived before, when the police came we were evicted from our house and I don’t want something like that to happen again. “I’m 75 and my husband is 80.

“He doesn’t really socialize with others his age because they would ridicule him.

“Throughout his school life he had had a terrible time with bullying and beatings because of his autism.

“I regret what happened and he knows that and was so remorseful and regretful, but at the same time he still has to move on and try to live without harassment.

“We don’t care about anyone, something happened to us in life that we never expected and we’re just trying to deal with it as best we can.”

“Our whole family supports him and tries to keep him on the right path, keep him away from negativity and show him what is right and what is not.

“It’s a busy and stressful time for us.”

On Monday Judge Alistair Devlin released Sholdis on bail pending his sentencing in November and ordered the pervert to sign the sex offenders’ register. The mother of Ballynure educator William Sholdis, who was caught with photos of children as young as six, says: “He didn’t know they were under 18.”

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