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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# Court
Woman jailed after being found with thousands of 'depraved' child abuse images
A judge has sentenced the woman to prison for three years.

A SEX WORKER found to be in possession of thousands of “depraved” child abuse images has been jailed for three years.

Bruna Meirelles (De Souza), 31, said she was introduced to child pornography by a client while using the drug crystal meth.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard De Souza is married to an Irish man but has let her application to remain in Ireland lapse and will be deported when her sentence finishes.

De Souza, formerly of Brabazon Hall, Cork Street, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to four counts of possession child pornography on a Mac Book and three iPhones, five counts of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography on three dates between December 2017 and July 2020.

The court heard the production counts refer to the production of text documents in the form of messaging conversations in which child sexual activity was discussed between De Souza and other parties. Illegal images of children were also shared by De Souza via WhatsApp.

Detective Garda Martin Allen told the court some of the child abuse images found were “unique” in that gardaí working the Cyber Crime division had not come across them before.

Judge Martin Nolan said the accused had been in possession of thousands of “depraved images of child pornography”

He noted that she was engaged in prostitution and it seemed one of her clients encouraged her to look at this material. He said after being introduced she became interested and downloaded significant amounts of the material and engaged in text conversations and the exchange of images.

Judge Nolan said that she had no previous convictions and co-operated with the gardaí in handing over passwords. He noted she is getting on well in prison and seems well capable of reform. He took into account the challenges she had faced in life.

Judge Nolan said he accepted crystal meth can affect people’s behaviour but said she knew what she was doing was wrong. He noted she had offended on three different dates.

“I don’t think she is a bad person but she committed serious offences and the court must punish her for her misbehaviour,” said Judge Nolan.

He imposed a three year sentence, backdated to when she went into custody.

Det Gda Allen told Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, that there were a number of searches of De Souza’s residence, the first in September 2018 in which a computer and phone were seized. A second search took place in August 2019 and another phone was seized. In July 2020 a third phone was seized and De Souza presented herself to a garda station where she handed over passwords.

The equipment was analysed and 41 category one images of child sex abuse were found on the computer

The three phones were also analysed and each contained a variety of images ranging from 2,464 category one images and videos of children and 752 category two images on one phone to 12 images and videos on another. A small number of child “anime” images were also found.

Det Gda Allen said the children involved were aged between two and 16 years old. The images involved the penetration of children or children exposing their genitals.

He told the court that when gardai were investigating these offences the same images would often come up and garda kept a database of previously seen images. He said some of the images found in De Souza’s equipment were “unique”, not having been seen by gardai before.

Det Gda Allen said 900,000 messages found on the equipment were also analysed and a substantial number of these conversations were found to relate to discussing child sexual activity.

The garda agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that there was no evidence of De Souza producing any images of children herself and no evidence she had access to any children.

Biggs said that De Souza, a transgender woman, had been brought up by her grandparents in a rural area of Brazil. She moved to Sao Paulo where she turned to prostitution to feed herself and fund her transition.

Biggs outlined letters from family and friends who characterised De Souza as a kind, loyal and trustworthy person with no evil or desire for children in her.

A friend outlined in a letter that sex work in Brazil was very dangerous with transgender women attacked and sometimes murdered in the street.

Biggs said De Souza came to Ireland in 2011, believing she could earn more money and have a better life here. She married an Irish man but began using crystal meth while engaging in sex work.

She handed in a psychologist report to the court and said it was difficult to ascertain what led to her offending behaviour but said there was no doubt crystal meth and her work were an influence.

She said De Souza is willing to walk away from both of those and wants to know what is wrong her. She said she was an excellent candidate for the Building Better Lives program or any treatment program having pleaded guilty and expressed significant remorse.