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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 19 September, 2018
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Kerry man caught with thousands of child pornography images jailed for two years

John O’Donoghue, aged 38, also distributed illegal images and movies via email.

Image: Chodyra Mike via Shutterstock

A KERRY MAN who was caught in possession of thousands of child pornography images as a result of a EUROPOL investigation has been jailed for two years.

John O’Donoghue, aged 38, also distributed illegal images and movies via email and a file sharing network. He admitted to gardaí that he was addicted to looking at child pornography.

O’Donoghue, formerly of Galtymore Park, Drimnagh and currently with an address in Killarney, Co Kerry, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the distribution of child pornography on dates between November and December 2009 and possession of child pornography in September 2012.

O’Donoghue, a qualified engineer, has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan noted O’Donoghue had been communicating online with “like-minded individuals” and the images he shared were not for “general distribution” but shared with individuals using the same websites as him.

“This is not a victimless crime because somewhere in the world there are actual children being abused,” said Judge Nolan.

He noted O’Donoghue was an educated man with a strong work history. He also took into account that O’Donoghue’s family had suffered a type of “social ostracisation” as a result of his offending.

He said that he had no doubt O’Donoghue felt shame and remorse.

Judge Nolan said he had to take into account the “tardiness” of the prosecution which had caused a level of stress for O’Donoghue in having the case hanging over him for a number of years.

Sentencing

Judge Nolan imposed a four-year sentence and suspended the final two years. He ordered the destruction of the material.

Garda Ian Ward told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that as a result of information passed on from a Europol investigation gardaí obtained a search warrant in 2012 for a previous Dublin address of O’Donoghue where they seized a laptop and USB key.

During the search, O’Donoghue admitted being a member of a certain website and gave gardaí his username. Gardaí later carried out an analysis of the equipment seized.

The illegal material was divided into three categories – children engaged in sexual activity, children with their genital regions exposed and CGI cartoon or Hentai images of children involved in sexual activity.

On the laptop, gardaí found 23 sexually explicit child movies, one child exposure movie, 3,371 sexually explicit child images, 3,342 exposure images and 175 Hentai images.

On the USB key, gardaí found 19 sexually explicit child movies, two child exposure movies, as well as 281 sexually explicit child images, 243 child exposure images and 6 Hentai images.

The court heard the children involved in the images, cartoons and movies across the laptop and USB seized ranged from babies to young teens. One depicted a young boy being urinated on by an unseen male.

Gardaí analysis of emails and chat logs also found evidence of the distribution of images to other email addresses in approximately 79 messages and sharing of four folders on a private file sharing network.

Admission

O’Donoghue initially attended voluntarily for an interview in 2012 and admitted being a user of a website that was a meeting place for people with a sexual interest in boys. Gardaí asked if he was addicted to viewing child porn and he said he was.

He was interviewed again in 2017 following analysis of the material and readily accepted his participation in the offences and his level of involvement.

The gardaí agreed with Karl Moran BL, defending, that there had not been “wide-scale” swapping of the images online and that O’Donoghue had not benefited financially. There was no suggestion O’Donoghue was involved in making any of the material.

Moran said O’Donoghue was a qualified engineer, previously employed in the Motor Tax Office, who had been living until recently in Dublin but had since moved home to Kerry. He said this has been difficult for his family who have lost friends.

He said O’Donoghue had had this case hanging over him for five years and had used alcohol to deal with the stress. He said he rarely left his home due to the reaction he gets.

Moran asked the court to take into account his client’s co-operation, early guilty plea, previous good record and admissions.

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Fiona Ferguson

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