Man with child abuse pics not caught for nearly 4 years due to garda computer crimes backlog

CourtsBy Sunday World
Man with child abuse pics not caught for nearly 4 years due to garda computer crimes backlog

It took three and a half years to arrest and charge a man caught with child abuse imagery because of the backlog in the garda computer crimes unit.

Paul Devine (45) was caught with 25 videos and 80 photographs of child sex abuse after an investigation by the Garda Computer Crime Investigation unit showed he was accessing images of male children online.

The unit also found he had visited a file-sharing website used to distribute such images over 10,000 times. He had also accessed a chatroom where individuals spoke about their interests in young boys.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Pauline Codd imposed an 18 month suspended sentence on Devine which she suspended for two years on strict conditions.

Devine, a father-of-one of Lanesborough Drive, Finglas, Dublin had pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography at his home in April 2011.

Sergeant Gavin Ross told the court that gardai obtained a search warrant and seized a number of laptops from Devine’s home on April 11, 2011. There was a lengthy delay in analysing and categorising the images due to a backlog at the Garda Computer Crime Investigation unit.

Because of this Devine was not arrested and charged until November 18, 2014, Sgt Ross said.

Devine, who works as a shop merchandiser, admitted at the time to looking at pornography on the laptop he shared with his wife and said that he sometimes looked at images of naked children.

There were four sets of findings on the laptop, including a folder containing images of child sex abuse on the laptop that was created by the laptop’s user rather than a computer operating system. He said five images were found in that particular folder.

Sgt Ross said 47 images of abuse were found on a temporary internet file, which is a file created by the computer and records the content that the user looked at online.

He also said 13 images were found in another temporary folder which was created by the computer’s operating system and recorded the sites the user looked at online. He said another 14 images were found on the hard disk of the computer.

Of the 80 images found in Devine’s possession, 76 were images of naked children and four showed children engaging in sexual activity.

Sgt Ross said 25 video files were also found in Devine’s possessions which were all videos that exposed the genitalia of young boys.

The court heard Devine also visited an image-sharing website more than 10,000 times over different dates and times.

Philipp Rahn, BL, defending, said Devine had no previous convictions and there was no suggestion that Devine had shared or distributed the images or videos of child pornography.

He said that the garda investigation showed he visited the image-sharing site more than 10,000 times but did not necessarily view child abuse images each of those times. He also noted the time that passed since Devine’s home was searched in April 2011.

Mr Rahn said Devine has attended forensic psychological services six times since July this year and was willing to attend a group therapy programme.

He also said Devine had been married for 12 years and was supported by his wife in court.

Letters from Devine’s mother, sister, brother-in-law and two friends were also handed in to the court. Mr Rahn said the letters came from people who “are all aware of what he has pleaded guilty to but are standing by him and saying there is another side to him”.

Mr Rahn also said “everybody in his family and circle of friends is shocked by offending that has been done by Mr Devine but also speaks well of him”.

Conor Gallagher