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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Garda jailed for two years for possession of child abuse images

Joseph O’Connor (58) of west Dublin had pleaded not guilty.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A GARDA CONVICTED of possessing images and videos of children being subjected to sexual acts has been jailed for two years.

Joseph O’Connor (58) of west Dublin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of possession of child abuse images at his home on dates between July 30 and August 2, 2011.

In August 2011, gardaí investigating an allegation of assault made against O’Connor went to his home and seized evidence, including a laptop.

A subsequent analysis of the laptop found videos in the computer’s “recycle bin” depicting boys under the age of ten being subjected to sexual acts.

Two videos depicted boys under 17 being subjected to sexual acts with a male adult. There were also multiple copies of 16 different images of children sexually exposed or being subjected to sexual acts with other children.

After a trial last November, a jury convicted him of four counts. The jury acquitted him of one count which dealt with 56 duplicates of two images found on his laptop.

Detective Superintendent Colm O’Malley told the court that O’Connor had been a garda for 25 years before his suspension from duty in 2012.

He agreed with Paul Carroll SC, defending, that O’Connor had a good work record and had not re-offended since these offences first came to light.

Counsel said that his client denied knowing anything about the material and maintains his innocence. He had told investigators that a man who came to his house for sex, days before his laptop was seized, had corrupted his computer.

He denied downloading it and described it as “sick”.

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The court heard there had been delays in bringing the case to a conclusion due, in part, to the involvement of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in investigating a complaint of assault made by the other man. This man did not cooperate with this investigation and it was dropped.

Carroll said his client had an unblemished career and was a dedicated garda who had carried out his duties to the best of his ability.

He said he suffered post-traumatic stress after a work incident in 1995 and took around nine months to recover.

The maximum sentence for the offences is a fine of €5000 or a prison term of five years. Judge Elma Sheahan set a headline sentence of three and a half years which she reduced to two years after taking into consideration his position as a garda and the support of his family.

Members of his family were in court for the hearings and his lawyers had handed a testimonial letter signed by his six siblings into Judge Sheahan.

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Declan Brennan

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