A 46 year-old South East man who had more than 123,000 images and 1,678 videos of child porn on computers, hard drives and USB sticks in his home was sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final two years suspended at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court last Thursday.
Judge Tom Teehan imposed the sentence on Vincent Daly of Fairview House, Fr Sheehy Terrace, Clogheen after declaring his crime to be "most disturbing" involving the "most distressing" of images and videos with a considerable number of them of a "relatively extreme nature".
Daly, a single man confined to a wheelchair since an accident in 1998, pleaded guilty at the Circuit Court to knowingly have in his possession child pornography at his home on June 26, 2013.
Gda. Louise Lordan told the court gardai in Cahir district received information from Europol and the Garda Paedophile Unit that an individual was accessing a website to obtain child abuse images. A search warrant was obtained and Vincent Daly's home was searched by gardai on June 26, 2013. Det. Gda. Dermot Fitzgerald cautioned Daly and asked him a number of computer and internet related questions. Daly consented to the gardai taking control of a number of email accounts and a number of computers, hard drives, USB sticks and related equipment and documents were seized.
Det. Gda. Fitzgerald brought the items to the Garda National Cyber Crime Unit in Harcourt Square in Dublin.
Gda. Lordan recounted how Gda. Donagh Mannix forensically examined two desktop computers, a laptop, two hard disk drives, two external hard disc drives, two USB sticks seized at Mr Daly's home. He also examined documents and notebooks containing passwords, user names and websites Daly used.
She detailed the number of images and videos of child porn Gda. Mannix found on each piece of computer equipment. They amounted to a total of 123,370 images and 1,678 video files. Most of the images and videos were of the sexual abuse of pre-teen boys and also indecent images of naked pre-teen boys. Some images and videos showed the sexual abuse of toddlers and a baby.
Skype was installed in one of the computers and a Skype chat between Daly and another person was recovered, Gda. Lordan outlined. During the conversation, Daly advises the other person how to find child porn on the internet.
Gda. Lordan also detailed a list of child porn website searches Gda. Mannix found on computer equipment owned by the defendant.
Gda. Lordan said Gda. Mannix was satisfied from his investigation that the owner of the computers and other equipment was constantly searching for and collecting child pornography over a period of years.
Gda. Lordan said when Daly was arrested, he made full admissions in relation to the possession of child porn.
She outlined that Daly was very co-operative with the gardai during their investigation. He gave full access to his computers.
Defence barrister Tom McGowan BL told the court the images found in his client's possession were gathered over a period of 10 years.
The barrister said Daly was unfortunately involved in a life changing accident that affected him in a number of ways physically including that he was unable to engage in sexual activity. He requested Judge Teehan to read a forensic psychologist's report on his client before passing sentence. It detailed his client's mental capacity and offered some reasons as to why he engaged in this behaviour. His client was sexually abused as a child and this was one of the issues dealt with in the report.
"He has instructed me that he is very remorseful for what happened. He realises it wasn't a victimless crime. He made serious efforts to stop what he was doing. He did stop intermittently. He was relieved when he was finally found by the gardai," Mr McGowan explained.
He added that Daly was still undergoing rehabilation in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoighaire and was on day release from there to attend the court hearing. He was due to be discharged from the Rehab Centre on April 29.
After hearing all the evidence, Judge Teehan said this was a most disturbing case involving the most distressing images, videos and still pictures running into tens of thousands.
He said the number of images found on computer equipment seized at Daly's home was a considerable aggravating factor in this case as was the fact that a considerable number of them were of a relatively extreme nature. In addition, special software was required that wasn't available to normal users of information technology in order to access this material.
The Judge regarded this case as being at close to the very top of the range of such offences, which carried a maximum of five years imprisonment.
He took into account Daly's early plea of guilty, the fact he hadn't any previous convictions and fully co-operated with the gardai including providing passwords he used to access child porn.
Judge Teehan said the paralysis Daly suffered in an accident was given as a reason for why he accessed this material over a period of ten years and over time sought material of a more and more extreme nature.
But he didn't agree that this explained why the defendant engaged in this activity. He noted Daly made efforts on a number of occasions to stop but was unsuccessful.
He also noted that he experienced abuse in childhood. Such abuse had a lifelong effect on victims but what was inexplicable to him and a great many people was that surely the abuse he suffered should have fixed in his mind the real harm it causes.
"What we are dealing with here is a crime that is not victimless and to say it's not victimless might suggest that it's relatively harmless. It's anything but. Large numbers of people who do not have a legal capacity to consent including babies and toddlers appeared in the images and videos."
Despite his previous clean record, Judge Teehan said Daly couldn't escape a custodial sentence due to the nature of the crime he committed. The appropriate sentence was four years imprisonment with the final two years suspended on condition he entered into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour during that two years period.
He directed that Daly engage with the psychotherapy services and confirmation of his attendance with an appropriate expert be placed in the court file every six months during the period of his sentence.
Judge Teehan directed the prison term commence on April 30 after Daly's discharge from rehabilitation.