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Man who went to meet underage girl for sexual exploitation caught by sting operation

The group of ‘vigilante paedophile hunters’ who caught Tim Bowen was not named in court.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A MAN IN his forties who went to meet an underage girl for the purposes of sexual exploitation was caught in a sting operation organised by “vigilante paedophile hunters”, Cork Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Tim Bowen of Cottage View in Monkstown, Co Cork was sent forward for sentencing from Cork District Court having signed pleas of guilty to two charges.

The first charge is that between 4 and 26 July 2019, Mr Bowen did attempt to communicate with a child by way of communication technology for the purpose of facilitating the sexual exploitation of that child.

The second charge is that at Costa Coffee café in Bishopstown in Cork city on 26 July 2019 he did attempt to intentionally meet the child for the purpose of doing something that constituted sexual exploitation of the child, namely sexual assault.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that the 45 year old had gone to meet what he thought was a 14 year old girl in Cork three years ago.

However, Judge Sarah Berkeley was told that the defendant was in fact never in online contact with an underage person but rather with a group of “vigilante paedophile hunters.”

Sgt Gary Duggan, who investigated the offence, was in court to outline the facts in the case which involved Bowen “attempting to meet an underage person for sexual exploitation.”

Jane Hyland, BL for the State, said that it was an unusual case involving a vigilante group who were not named in court.

“The situation that came about was that Mr Bowen was apprehended in Cork by this group.”

The court heard that the group organise operations to ensnare individuals who are trying to make inappropriate contact with children via social media.

The vigilante group notified Gardaí of the actions of Mr Bowen and a full probe was launched.

Defence counsel Sinead Behan BL said her client had both ADHD and bipolar disorder but was without a GP. Ms Behan said Bowen had lost his job and marriage as a result of the publicity surrounding the case and had made a number of attempts at self harm. He is in a new relationship and is a carer to this person.

Ms Behan said that her client had been gone online and engaged in sexual activity with a number of people that he met there. However, none of these people were minors.

Ms Behan said Bowen was not in contact with any children and had complied fully with the conditions of his bail since he was first charged.

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Judge Berkeley said it was a very serious offence.

“I think there really should be a forensic psychologist report. It is a complex (case) and the penalties involved are very severe. A (forensic psychologist) report can only help,” the judge said.

She directed that psychological and psychiatric reports be prepared.

Mr Bowen was remanded on bail until his next court appearance on November 10th. Full medical and psychiatric reports will be prepared in the interim. Free legal aid was granted in the case.

Mr Bowen is required to sign on twice a week at Togher Garda station. He must notify Gardaí of any change of address and be contactable to Gardaí by mobile phone on a twenty four seven basis.

About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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