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Man caught with 100s of child sex abuse images after sending some to undercover FBI agent, court hears

The accused pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.

File photo of Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
File photo of Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

A MAN WAS caught in possession of hundreds of child sex abuse images after sending illicit material to an undercover FBI agent, a court has heard.

Dermot Whelan (67) of The Crescent, Belgard Heights, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of child pornography on two computer devices at his address on 21 July 2014.

Whelan also pleaded guilty to knowingly distributing child pornography at his address on an unknown date between 20 October 2012 and 21 July 2014. He has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Trevor Scanlon told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that the case originated with a member of the FBI working undercover and monitoring certain internet chat rooms which were suspected of being places where possessors of child pornography congregated.

Detective Garda Scanlon said that in 2012, the FBI agent placed an advertisement designed to appeal to people interested in child pornography. The agent received a response from an email address which sent them 25 images of child pornography.

The FBI agent contacted Yahoo who determined that the email address was located in Ireland. Gardaí obtained a search warrant for the accused’s address and seized a number of electronic devices.

A laptop seized was found to have accessed a number of websites containing child pornography. Three explicit child sex abuse videos were discovered on the laptop.

Also found on the laptop were 53 explicit images of child pornography and 182 child exposure images. Further images of child pornography were discovered on a desktop computer.

In interview with gardaí, Whelan said he thought child sex abuse images were disgusting and that under no circumstances would he harm a child. He offered as an excuse for the material being found on the computers the fact that he had bought them second hand.

In a subsequent interview, Whelan admitted he had viewed child sex abuse images and sent it on to others via email. He said that at the time he thought it was okay because he was not buying it or contributing to it.

Whelan said he was sexually aroused by the images. He said this was something he deeply regrets and that he has not viewed pornography of any kind since the offences.

Detective Garda Scanlon agreed with James Dwyer SC, defending, that the manner of possession was that the files were viewed and thus went into a “temp file”, meaning that only a minority of the images were actually downloaded.

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Dwyer said his client has removed Wi-Fi from his home and has undergone therapy. He said that without admissions made by Whelan, it is likely his client would not have been charged with distributing child pornography.

Counsel submitted that this was less serious offending than is often seen in cases like this, particularly with regard to the volume of material involved. He said this may be a case that does not require his client’s immediate incarceration.

Judge Elma Sheahan remanded the accused on continuing bail and adjourned the matter for finalisaiton on 9 July next.

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Brion Hoban

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