Limerick Courthouse, Mulgrave Street
A MAN who had thousands of images of child pornography at his home in Limerick has been sentenced to two-and-half years’ imprisonment.
Colin Shorthall, aged 31, who is originally from County Wexford, had admitted possession of a large amount of child pornography, including images and videos, at a Pery Street in the city centre on February 10, 2016.
He had also pleaded guilty to sending indecent messages by telephone to a teenage boy on various dates during 2015 and 2016.
During a sentencing hearing last month, Detective Garda David Godfrey said the defendant’s home was searched after gardai were alerted to an image depicting child pornography which had been uploaded to a named website.
Limerick Circuit Court was told a number of items were seized during the search and that videos of a young boy being “grossly sexually assaulted” were located on a phone belonging to the accused.
More than 2,000 images depicting the sexual abuse of children were found on a laptop while more than 700 videos were also found.
Det Garda Godfrey told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that gardai later established the accused man had “befriended” a fourteen-year-old boy on the dating app Tinder around a year before his arrest.
He said the pair were in contact “almost every day” via another app – Snapchat – and that there was a “sexual element” to the contact including the exchanging of sexually explicit images.
Judge Tom O’Donnell was told that in early 2016, the defendant booked a hotel in the West of Ireland with a view to having a sexual encounter with the now 17-year-old boy.
However, the pair never met in person and the teenager indicated he wanted no further involvement with the defendant after his girlfriend became aware of what was going on.
Imposing sentence this Thursday, Judge O’Donnell said the case highlights the potential pitfalls of social media and “raises the thorny issue of access and supervision”.
He noted there were no coercion or blackmail on the part of Mr Shorthall who he described as being a “loner and an isolated individual”.
Noting the contents of a psychological report, he commented that he has a complex personality, is vulnerable and is at high risk of reoffending,
He said possession of child pornography is not a victimless crime and that the quantity and nature of the images and videos seized was of concern.
He imposed a two-and-a-half year prison sentence which he back-dated to the date of Mr Shorthall’s arrest.
Factoring in remission, the defendant is likely to be released imminently.
Judge O’Donnell directed that his name remain on the register of sex offenders indefinitely.