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Cork man caught by paedo hunters to be sentenced after he completes ‘Safe Lives’ programme

Tim Bowen (45) had gone to meet what he thought was a 14 year old girl for the purposes of sexual exploitation

Tim Bowen

Tim Bowen© Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision


A middle-aged man who attempted to make contact with a 14 year old girl for sexual exploitation but was caught in a 'sting' operation mounted by a group of vigilante paedophile hunters is now actively participating in a Safe Lives programme.

Tim Bowen (45) of Cottage View, Monkstown, Cork, appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a signed plea of guilty to two charges.

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.

Tim Bowen© Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

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.

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.

Defence counsel Sinead Behan BL said her client suffered from both Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Bipolar Disorder.

Ms Behan said 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 where it is part-relationship and part-carer.

Ms Behan said he had also made a number of attempts at self harm.

She said Bowen is attending Waterford psychologist Dr Nicholas Bankes.

Ms Behan said the defendant is also participating in a 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.

Ms Behan applied for sentencing in the matter to be adjourned to allow Bowen to complete the Safe Lives programme.

Dermot Sheahan BL said the State was in agreement.

"It would be better that the court dealt with the matter after he had completed the course," he said.

Sentencing would also be facilitated by full psychiatric, psychology and probation reports.

Judge Boyle was told that Bowen had co-operated fully with gardaí investigating the matter.

Bowen 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 online activity as his marriage began to break-down.

The court heard 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 15 next year.

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