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Man found in possession of child pornography after exposing himself near a child gets suspended sentence

The man pleaded guilty before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A MAN WHO was caught in possession of child pornography after being arrested for exposing his genitals near a child has been given a suspended sentence.

Niall Edwards (37) of Farbill House, Kinnegad, Co Westmeath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to exposing his genitals at TK Maxx, ILAC Shopping Centre, Dublin 1, on 10 August 2017 and on 27 May 2018.

Edwards also pleaded guilty to exposing his genitals in Penney’s Shopping Centre, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, and possession of child pornography, at Store Street Garda Station on 27 May 2018.

Detective Garda Mairead Murphy told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that on the date in 2017, a woman was shopping in TK Maxx along with two of her children. The woman noticed her daughter began to cry and asked her what had happened.

The child told her mother that a man had “showed me his thingy”. She pointed out the man to her mother as being the accused in this case.

Detective Garda Murphy said that on the date in 2018, Sinead Gorman, a loss prevention officer at the same TK Maxx shop, noticed the accused moving his hand in his pocket while holding a shoe in the other.

Ms Gorman formed the view that Edwards was masturbating. She observed him move to the end of the footwear section and expose himself.

Later on the same day, Edwards exposed his penis in the vicinity of a child in Penney’s on O’Connell Street. Edwards was arrested immediately following this incident.

Gardaí took possession of the accused’s phone and following an analysis discovered 1,665 images of child pornography. 1,417 of the images depicted children engaged in sexual activity, while 248 images depicted children with their privates exposed.

Murphy agreed with Anne Rowland SC, defending, that there was no evidence suggesting payment for the images or sharing of the images. She agreed that Edwards was qualified as a chef and lost his job when these offences came to light.

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Rowland submitted that her client’s behaviour regarding the exposure offences was him “crying out to be noticed”. She handed in a psychological report which stated her client had expressed significant shame and remorse for his offending.

Judge Martin Nolan said case law in the area of child pornography indicated that in the absence of aggravating factors – such as previous convictions for similar offences, distribution or production of the material – then the court should consider a non custodial sentence.

He said that the exposure offences were difficult to assess and noted they were once seen as a much less serious offence then than they are seen now.

He took into account the “strong” mitigation including Edward’s guilty plea and a psychological report outlining that Edwards had certain challenges of a difficult nature.

Judge Nolan said to imprison Edwards at this point would be unjust and imposed a two and a half-year sentence which he suspended in full for two and a half years on strict conditions including 18 months probation supervision.

About the author:

Fiona Ferguson and Brion Hoban

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