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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 24 July, 2019
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Man found with video showing sexual abuse of five-year-old girl asks judge to spare him jail

31-year-old Michael Flanagan’s defence said he had started downloading such material after the breakup of a long-term relationship.

SCC R Woffenden 2 Source: Richard Woffenden

A MAN WHO was caught with a video of an unconscious five-year-old girl being sexually abused will be sentenced later at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Michael Flanagan (31) was also caught with downloaded child abuse material a year earlier in his family home.

The accused’s defence counsel said he had started downloading the material due to the breakup of a long-term year relationship.

Bernard Condon SC presented a psychological report which stated Flanagan became more and more involved in video games and online fantasy worlds and started browsing the “dark net” for child pornography.

Judge Karen O’Connor said the video of the child was of particular concern. She adjourned sentencing until 3 March next and remanded Flanagan on continuing bail.

Flanagan of North Strand, Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing child pornography in 2012 and 2013.

Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, said gardaí searched Flanagan’s family home in Artane on 13 November 2012 where they found an external hard drive in an upstairs bedroom.

Flanagan was not home at the time.

Examination of the hard drive revealed 18 child abuse images including four of children involved in sexual acts with adults or other children.

On 6 September the following year Flanagan was living in Clontarf when gardaí again searched his home. They found a USB drive which was later analysed by the Computer Crimes Unit.

It contained 35 images similar to the ones found on the hard drive. There was also a video file depicting a man attempting to have sex with an unconscious child who appeared to be about five years old.

None of the subjects in the images have been identified.

Flanagan was arrested and admitted ownership of the files. He has minor previous convictions for drugs and public order offences.

Mr Condon said his client had been drinking almost daily since he was 16. He said before the offences he was in a four-year relationship during which his partner was unfaithful.

The breakdown of the relationship led him to retreat into the online world, counsel said.

Counsel asked the judge to consider a non-custodial sentence. He said his client was now in a new committed relationship and his partner was aware of the charges.

He said the offence attracts a large amount of “public opprobrium”. Counsel noted that members of the press were in court and publication of the matter “will likely have severe consequences” for Flanagan.

“I think the court is entitled to take that into account,” Mr Condon added.

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