'insidious' | 

Dublin man jailed after sending explicit images to German boy (12) he met on online game

The boy later told German police that initially the conversation was ‘nice’ but suddenly Begley wanted to get erotic pictures of the boy

Stock image© SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Sonya McLeanIndependent.ie

A man who sent explicit images of himself to a 12-year-old German boy believing the child was a 14-year-old girl has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Gavin Begley (23) befriended the German boy through an online game the child was playing with his friends. They played a few rounds of the game before Begley messaged the child privately.

The boy later told German police that initially the conversation was “nice” but suddenly Begley wanted to get erotic pictures of the boy.

The boy explained later to police officers, that the game was played through Instagram and the child’s Instagram profile was a random image of a girl leading Begley to assume that the child was a girl. The child told Begley in their conversations that he was 14 years old.

The child thought Begley was joking when he asked for the picture so he requested a photograph of Begley first. When he got a photograph in return of Begley’s penis he knew it was serious and broke contact with him.

He said previous to this, Begley admitted in the chat between them that he had a fetish for children. The child knew from Begley’s Instagram handle, that the man’s name was Gavin and he was from Ireland. He reported the incident to German police who contacted gardaí.

During the investigation, a warrant was secured from Begley’s home and gardaí discovered 57 videos and 362 images of child abuse material on his phone which was confiscated during that search.

Begley’s phone was later analysed and a number of social media apps were found on it with various email addresses for Begley. It showed that Google translate was regularly used and there was evidence of chat which had been translated from English to Russian.

Some of the chat included requests for naked photographs of girls from six to 12 years old. Another line of chat recovered stated “nobody has to know that we are talking….it can be our little secret”.

Begley of Ballybough Road, Dublin 3, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to communication with a child using Instagram from the purposes of facilitating sexual exploitation of a child on November 27, 2019. He also admitted possession of child pornography at his home on September 7, 2020.

Judge Dara Hayes accepted that Begley had no previous convictions, had not come to further garda attention and had significant mental health issues. He further accepted his remorse and that he has a supportive family.

He said it was a very serious offence as most of the images fell into the highest category of child abuse material though he accepted there was no evidence that Begley distributed the images.

Judge Hayes said the incident of requesting an image from the German boy was a “most unpleasant offence” given the young age of the victim and the fact that Begley was aware it was a child.

“It is an insidious offence because children are targeted for child exploitation,” the judge said.

He acknowledged that Begley has been registered a sex offender. Begley was sentenced to four and half years with the final 12 months suspended for two years on strict conditions, including that he has no unsupervised access to children.

Det Garda Tracey O’ Reilly previously told the court how the child ultimately reported the incident to German police. On September 6, 2020 gardaí received the information from the German police and an investigation was launched.

The child provided police with some of the chat between Begley and himself which he had a screenshot of. He said he told Begley he was 14 and Begley told him he was 20 years but that the child’s age “would not matter”.

The phone number, connected with the Instagram account, led to gardaí identifying Begley as a suspect and his home was searched on September 7, 2020.

Begley initially suggested to gardaí that he had been hacked suggesting that his phone was taken when he was having a shower and someone recorded him. He subsequently made admissions and said there was one file of child pornography on his phone.

He said he had been chatting with people on Instagram and admitted that he played games online and that he used an app called Discord also.

He then recalled the conversation in November 2019 and said he had been chatting to a German girl. He claimed that “various things” had been sent from his account that had not been sent by him and suggested that “someone may have had control of my Discord account”.

Det Gda O’ Reilly said the child abuse material was ultimately recovered from the phone and the majority of the videos and images fell into category one which involved children engaging or witnessing sex with children or adults. The children raged in age from three years old to 16 years old.

Following the analysis of the phone, Begley was interviewed again and he made significant admissions. He maintained that he had only watched the videos once but accepted that he had kept them rather than deleting them.

Det Gda O’Reilly agreed with defence counsel that Begley was a vulnerable young man and that he has shown remorse and has a want “to repair the hurt he has caused to society and his family who have supported him”.

It was accepted that he was bullied in school and that he has suffered from depression and anxiety.

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