Cork man caught by paedo hunters’ case adjourned after engaging with sex offender programme
Tim Bowen (45) had gone to meet what he thought was a teen girl for the purposes of sexual exploitation
A man who attempted to make contact with a teenage girl for sexual exploitation but was caught in a 'sting' operation mounted by a group of internet vigilante paedophile hunters is now participating in a special programme for sex offenders.
Tim Bowen (45) of Cottage View, Monkstown, Cork appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a signed plea of guilty to two charges.
Sentencing was adjourned by Judge Helen Boyle after the court was told Bowen was now successfully engaging with the Safe Lives programme which aims to help people tackle their sex addiction issues.
Sinead Behan BL, for Bowen, said her client had actively engaged with the Safe Lives programme and had already undergone five sessions.
She sought an adjournment of sentencing until April to allow Bowen to continue to engage with the programme.
"It would be beneficial for the court to be updated after the sessions," she said.
However, Dermot Sheehan BL, for the State, opposed such a long adjournment, stressing that the prosecution wanted the matter dealt with during the current Circuit Court sessions.
"I am just concerned with the circumstances of the case. It is too serious," he said.
Judge Boyle noted the State's position and she adjourned the matter for sentencing until February 23.
The charges arose after Bowen had gone to meet what he thought was an underage person for the purposes of sexual exploitation three years ago.
However, he was never in online contact with a child but rather with a group of what were described in court as "vigilante paedophile hunters".
"The situation that came about was that Mr Bowen was apprehended in Cork by this group," Jane Hyland BL, for the State, previously told the court.
Ms Hyland said it was quite an unusual case in that regard.
The vigilante group - who were not named in court - mount internet operations to "ensnare" people attempting to make inappropriate online contact with children.
Gardaí were notified by the vigilante group of Bowen's actions and a full investigation commenced.
Bowen was charged that, between July 4 and July 26, 2019, he attempted to contact a child by way of communication technology for the purpose of facilitating the sexual exploitation of that child.
The second charge was that, at Costa Coffee in Bishopstown, Cork on July 26, 2019, he did attempt to intentionally meet a child for the purpose of doing something that constituted sexual exploitation of the child.
He appeared on a signed plea of guilty to both charges from Cork District Court.
Bowen had indicated at a very early stage his intention to enter a guilty plea.
The court was informed there was no actual victim per se as no child was involved and the 'sting' operation was mounted entirely by adults.
Ms Behan said her client suffered from both Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Bipolar Disorder.
She explained that her client had already lost his full-time job as a result of the publicity surrounding his arrest, subsequent charge and court appearance.
His marriage had also ended as a result of the incident.
The defendant is now involved in a relationship which is effectively part-relationship and part-carer.
Ms Behan said he had also made a number of attempts at self harm.
She said Bowen is now attending a Waterford psychologist and is also actively participating in the Safe Lives programme. This is a scheme supervised by the Probation and Welfare Service (PWS) and which aims to help sex offenders tackle their addiction issues.
"The course organisers are pleased with his participation," she added.
Sentencing will also be facilitated by full psychiatric, psychology and probation reports.
Judge Boyle was told that Bowen had cooperated fully with gardaí investigating the matter. He has no previous convictions in Ireland.
He had returned to Ireland in 2010 after a period living in the UK and inquiries with the British police indicated he had no previous convictions in that jurisdiction either.
Bowen had commenced the online activity as his marriage began to disintegrate.
The court heard that he had sexual activity online but this had not involved children.
As a result of his Bipolar Disorder, his depressive lows now leave him convinced "he is just not able to face the day".
On the highs related to his illness, he is able to operate on a daily basis but can suffer from bouts of bizarre behaviour.
Judge Boyle remanded Bowen on continuing bail to appear before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on February 23.
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