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Man (66) who was caught with child sex abuse images 10 years ago gets suspended sentence

The court heard that the man’s laptop was not analysed until 2015 due to a lack of garda resources.

File photo. Court room.
File photo. Court room.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/

A 66-YEAR-old man who was caught with child sex abuse images over 10 years ago after he brought his laptop to work to be repaired has been given a suspended sentence.

There was a “very substantial delay” in the investigation into the child abuse material found on Alan Clarke’s laptop in 2009, Judge Melanie Greally told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.

“A significant mitigating factor is the fact this was offending which was committed over 10 years ago,” the judge said, adding there was a “significant lapse in time” before the case came to court.

She handed down an 18-month sentence and suspended it on a number of conditions, including that Clarke continue attending therapy as directed by the Probation Service.

Clarke (66) of Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of child pornography at FÁS Training Centre, Loughlinstown Drive, Co Dublin, on 2 June 2009.

Detective Garda Bernard Dunne previously told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that on the day in question, Clarke brought his laptop to be repaired at the centre, where he was working as a security guard.

Detective Garda Dunne said IT staff working to repair the laptop contacted gardaí after discovering 41 videos and 28 images of child pornography. These depicted boys and girls aged between five and 15 years’ old engaged in sexual activity or in sexually exposed poses.

When interviewed, Clarke told gardaí that he had a “curiosity” regarding child pornography and said he lost interest the previous month. Analysis of the laptop determined that all of the material had been downloaded between March and May of 2009.

The court heard that the laptop was not analysed until 2015 due to a lack of garda resources.

Detective Garda Dunne accepted the submission of Jane Murphy BL, defending, that the teacher at the centre who handed Clarke back his laptop told him the materials had been discovered and advised him to destroy the hard drive, which Clarke made no attempt to do.

Murphy said her client had co-operated with gardaí and made admissions at the scene. She said that Clarke denied paying for the material and there was no evidence he shared the pornography or profited from it.

Clarke has one previous conviction for assault dating back to 1987. He is retired, is living in sheltered accommodation and has not come to the attention of gardaí since the incident.

Judge Greally said the offences were “inherently serious” and she noted a probation report cited Clarke as being at medium risk of re-offending.

She noted Clarke had suffered ill-health in the intervening years since his arrest and suffers from a number of psychological and emotional difficulties, for which he is undergoing therapy.

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Brion Hoban and Isabel Hayes

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