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Man who 'stumbled' across child porn gets suspended sentence

Man who 'stumbled' across child porn gets suspended sentence

A man who viewed child pornography after “stumbling” across it while searching for adult pornography late at night has been given a suspended sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Carl Murphy (45) was in an state of “emotional flux” following the collapse of his marriage and checked himself into St Patrick's Hospital for a time after the offences came to light.

Murphy, formerly of Grange Park Grove, Raheny, Dublin and now with an address at Newbury, Castlemartin Lodge, Kildare, pleaded guilty to possession of 121 images of child pornography on July 20, 2016. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the material possessed by Murphy fell at the lower end of the scale in terms of categorisation and involved quite a modest number of images compared with other cases.

He said that child pornography was not a victimless crime and there were children in parts of the world suffering by reason of people such as the accused man.

Judge Nolan noted Murphy seemed to have had certain psychological problems at the time but noted he was now engaging in therapy. He said he felt that there was a good chance that the accused man would not re-offend in the future.

Judge Nolan imposed a two year and a half year sentence which he suspended in full.

Sergeant Liam Donoghue told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, that gardaí acting on confidential information seized two laptops and a desktop computer. These were found to contain a total of 121 images and four movies of child pornography.

Murphy, who was separated and no longer living in the family home, told gardaí he had been on internet chat rooms and admitted viewing the material and downloading some images.

A hard drive from one of the computers had been destroyed and other files had been put through “shredding” software but were recovered by gardaí.

He was not interviewed by gardaí at the time and checked himself in St Patrick's Hospital. He was later interviewed in November 2016. He told gardaí that he had come across the child pornography by accident rather than design.

Murphy said he had been looking at other pornographic material when he was directed to a link to the illegal material.

The majority of the images depicted young females under the age of 17, some with genital areas exposed or naked in provocative poses. The movies included an adult female engaging in oral sex with a child, a male ejaculating in the face of a child and two girls under 17 removing their clothes.

The garda agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, there were no images of bestiality or sadomasochism or penetrative sex with a penis. He said the images appeared to involve children between the ages of 12 to 17 years old.

Mr Bowman said that the material was “egregious” but submitted that there were worse cases.

The garda agreed that the site accessed by Murphy was not exclusively child porn. He agreed that the time period involved was months rather then years and that Murphy was not a hoarder of images but appeared to delete them after viewing.

Mr Bowman said Murphy had searched for adult porn which opened a “Pandora's box” and led him into a dark area of the internet he would otherwise not have accessed. He said the time period involved coincided with the collapse of his marriage and the deterioration of his mental health.

Counsel said this was not material Murphy had sought out but had stumbled across and admitted that he should never have gone back to look at the material again.

He said his client was now known within his community, by family and friends as a person who had accessed child pornography. He said Murphy had paid an enormous personal price and “lost everything in the world.”

Mr Bowman said Murphy was engaging in a two year course of therapy and had deep remorse for how his family has been affected. He asked the court to take into account his client had made immediate admissions and followed up with co-operation in garda interviews.

He said this had had a catastrophic effect on Murphy's life and said he had lost absolutely everything as a consequence of what he was doing in “a state of emotional flux” late at night.