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Man admittted grooming child on Facebook

A MAN who used  Facebook to make contact with a young boy, who he admitted planning to commit a sex act with, has been sentenced at Ennis Circuit Court for the possession and distribution of child pornography.
The 33-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested by gardaí on August 28 of last year. Detective Garda TJ Molloy told the court that the accused had planned to travel to Cork to meet the boy, who he believed to be about 10 years of age, the following day.
The man appeared before Judge Carroll Moran at Ennis Circuit Court, where he pleaded guilty to knowingly distributing child pornography for the purpose of sale, distribution, exportation or show on dates between August 7 and August 28, 2013, at a Clare address.
He also pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography, namely naked male photographs, showing genitalia, at a Clare address on August 28, 2013.
Detective Garda Molloy told the court that gardaí searched the man’s premises on foot of a warrant on August 28, seizing, among other items, an android tablet and mobile phone. The warrant had been issued as a result of a related investigation being carried out in Donegal, involving a person referred to in court as ‘H’.
The accused admitted to gardaí that he used Facebook to make contact with children, and that he had made contact with a child referred to as ‘J’ in court. Detective Garda Molloy told the court that, during interview, the accused stated it was his “intention to meet J and he was going to do something to him”.
Detective Garda Molloy stated that they have been unable to confirm that the boy ‘J’ exists, as nobody of his name or address could be located by gardaí in the Mallow area.
However, he added that the fact that the accused was trying tomeet a child was “worrying”.
A number of naked images of children were found on the accused’s tablet, which he admitted to using, “for his own sick pleasure”.
Detective Garda Paul Johnston, of the forensic computer division, examined the tablet and obtained 25 images of child pornography and four movie files. An examination of Facebook chats between the accused and ‘J’ showed they were “quite sexualised in nature”, with discussions about meeting for sexual purposes.
Det Garda Johnston stated, that among the conversations, were requests for ‘J’ to perform sex acts on his younger brother, believed to be around seven years of age.
Four images were sent to the accused from ‘J’, including one of his younger brother. Only two of these images were pornographic in nature.
Of the images and movie files found in the possession of the accused, Detective Garda Johnston outlined that 19 images fell into the category of images depicting erotic poses with no sexual activity; the remaining six images related to children engaging in sexual activity. The movie files included one involving sexual activity between an adult and male child, with the remaining four showing sexual activity between children.
The accused admitted to gardaí that he had sent two images, which had been sent from ‘J’ to ‘H’ in Donegal.
The court was told that at the time of the arrest, the accused had been on conditional release from prison for just a month, serving part of a seven-year sentence for the sexual assault of a male child.
Counsel for the accused stated that the distribution was “limited in nature”, with the number of images in his possession “relatively small” and the majority of those were in the lowest category. He said that his client had cooperated fully with the investigation, and pleaded guilty at the earliest available opportunity. He added that his client was a victim of abuse himself at a young age. The accused is currently interacting with the Probation Services in prison and has enrolled in education.
In sentencing, Judge Moran stated, “He admitted using Facebook to acquire images and gain access to a child for the purposes of sexual exploitation – that makes this a very serious matter. He was not long out of prison when this started.”
He sentenced the accused to a total of four years, concurrent between both counts but consecutive to a sentence already activated at Dublin Circuit Court, suspending the final two years for a period of six years.

About Austin Hobbs

Austin Hobbs

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