Limerick teacher’s child porn shame

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Limerick teacher’s child porn shame

The former teacher pleaded guilty to possession of 44 images of child pornography at his home

A PRIMARY school teacher who admitted possession of child pornography at his home in County Limerick has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

While the offence was detected more than nine years ago, the defendant was only sentenced during Christmas Week having pleaded guilty over the summer.

The 37-year-old, who is no longer working as a teacher, was prosecuted following a search of his home in a Limerick village on December 7, 2011.

During a sentencing hearing, Sergeant Niall Bambrick said three laptops and two phones were seized during the search which was connected to a separate investigation into sexualised conversations, on Skype, between the defendant and a teenage girl.

Detective Garda Paul Fitzpatrick of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau said he found 44 images depicting child pornography when he examined one of the laptops in March 2016.

He said the images were of children, aged under 17, who had their genitals exposed. They were, he added, at the “lower end of the scale” and he stated that no video files were found.

Transcripts of “sexually explicit communications” between the defendant and a 15-year-old girl were also submitted to the court during the hearing.

They came to around 300 pages and Judge Tom O’Donnell was told the conversations took place over a number of days in July 2011.

Being questioned by barrister Lorcan Connolly, Detective Garda Fitzpatrick confirmed there was no suggestion that his client had shared, distributed or paid for any of the images found on his laptop.

He also accepted that there was no evidence that he had viewed or accessed images of younger children. 

Mr Connolly submitted that given the nature of the images and the “relatively low number” of files the case was “somewhat of an outlier”. 

He said his client, who has not worked as a teacher since the day his home was searched, accepts his wrongdoing. He is currently completing a PHD and represents a ‘moderate risk’ of reoffending.

Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said the delay in examining the laptops was “inordinate” and of significant concern to him.

He accepted the images were at the lower end of the scale but said some of the content from the Skype conversations was “very disturbing”.

He imposed a 12 month prison sentence which he suspended for 12 months.

The defendant’s name was placed on the register of sexual offenders for five years.