A TEENAGER who was found with images of an adolescent girl on his phone, didn’t know it was illegal, a court has heard.
The young man, who is now aged 19, was charged with being in possession of child pornography on July 2 of last year.
Inspector Luke Conlon of Bruff garda station told the court that on July 2, 2014 gardai searched the home of the defendant on foot of a search warrant issued by the courts pursuant to Section 7 of the Child Traffic and Pornography Act 1998.
The court heard that during the course of the search the defendant’s phone was seized and forensically examined and was found to contain a quantity of images and videos.
The court heard that the young man had become withdrawn after experiencing a difficult time in his life.
Defence solicitor Brendan Gill said that approximately two years ago, the defendant, then aged, 17 became involved in an online conversation group.
The court heard that through the online site he became friendly with a girl who was younger than him.
Mr Gill told the court that the relationship developed and the two parties began exchanging photographs of each other.
The court heard that there was a three–and-a-half year age difference between the two parties.
Mr Gill further told the court that there had also been an exchange of letters and birthday cards.
“Both parties would have deemed themselves to have been in a relationship, albeit they never met,” he explained.
“She resided in the UK – they never met,” he said.
Mr Gill said he had a number of consultations with the defendant, who he said presented as a “very sensible person”.
Mr Gill said that when the young man was initially arrested last year “he wouldn’t have had a full appreciation of the seriousness of the offence”.
He said that it was quite evident that when he was re-interviewed “he was remorseful about the whole situation and had come to a full appreciation of the fact that he shouldn’t have had those images”.
The court heard that the defendant stated in an interview: “I didn’t know it was illegal but I now know that it was wrong.”
The court heard the young man had no previous convictions.
Family members were present in court for the hearing.
The court was told the defendant had “the full support of his family”.
Mr Gill said the defendant “had too much time on his hands”.
“He was a keen sportsman when younger,” said Mr Gill.
The court was told that the defendant and his family found the incident and the whole process “very traumatic”.
“He is from a very good family and he was at all times cooperative. He regrets what occurred,” said Mr Gill.
Inspector Luke Conlon said that “on the scale of things, the investigating gardai consider it to be a minor offence”.
Judge Marian O’Leary made an order for a pre-sanction report with a view to the defendant “perhaps engaging in counselling services”.
The case will come before the courts again later in the year.