guilty plea | 

Student caught with child abuse material told gardai he came across it during research

Dylan Edmonds (27) of Cromwellsfort Road, Walkinstown, pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession of child pornography

Dylan Edmonds outside Naas courthouse. Pic Gary Ashe© Gary Ashe

Dylan Edmonds outside Naas courthouse today. Pic Gary Ashe© Gary Ashe

Seán McCárthaighSunday World

A Dublin student has appeared in court after pleading guilty to a charge of possessing child pornography on his laptop computer seven years ago.

A sitting of Naas Circuit Criminal Court heard Dylan Edmonds, a former computer science student at Maynooth University, admitted having 90 images and three videos containing child pornographic material on an Asus computer which was discovered by gardaí on May 19, 2016 during a search of an address in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare where he lived at the time.

Edmonds (27) of Cromwellsfort Road, Walkinstown, pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession of child pornography on May 19-25, 2016 contrary to Section 6 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

Detective Garda Eoin Kelly told the court on Friday that the computer was not seized at the time as Edmonds’ mother indicated he needed it for upcoming exams.

However, Edmonds attended Naas garda station six days later and brought the laptop with him.

He told gardaí that he had come across the offending material as part of research for his studies and had tried to report it to the US authorities via e-mail.

The court heard a forensic examination of the laptop, which was described as “a painstaking process” showed it contained 90 images and three videos containing pornographic material in an encrypted folder labelled with his name.

Dylan Edmonds outside Naas courthouse today. Pic Gary Ashe© Gary Ashe

Det Garda Kelly said 49 images and all the videos were classified as “Category 1” content which contained explicit material of children under 17 years engaged in sexual activity.

Another 27 images were “Category 2” material which showed children exposing their genitalia, while the remaining 14 “Category 3” images contained cartoon animations of children engaged in sexual activity.

The court heard Edmonds has used two software programmes to try and erase material from his laptop and a separate programme to see if files could be recovered.

Det Garda Kelly said the laptop also contained a 131-page document about the sexual activity of a 10-year-old girl entitled: “He Seduced His Little Sister” as well as a handbook with the title: “How to Practise Child Love” and 182 pornographic cartoon images of children.

He said Edmonds failed to respond to questions about how such material came to be on his laptop following his arrest.

However, the accused confirmed that nobody else had used the equipment or had access to it.

The court heard Edmonds has one previous conviction for stalking and harassment at Carrickmacross District Court last year in relation to an offence in 2016 for which sentencing still has to be finalised.

Cross-examined by counsel for Edmonds, Donal Cronin BL, Det Garda Kelly said investigators had not sought to establish if Edmonds was accessing such material regularly.

He confirmed there was no evidence that Edmonds has sought to print or distribute the offending content or make any commercial gain from it.

However, Det Garda Kelly rejected the suggestion that the accused had come across the material as part of his studies.

“I would not accept that,” the witness remarked.

The court heard that Edmonds, who is now studying economics at a different college, had been placed on the sex offenders register and had complied with his bail conditions.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Cronin said his client had a difficult family background and had suffered bullying in school during a lonely, isolated upbringing.

He said Edmonds was “shamed, embarrassed and humiliated” for his actions for which he apologised.

The barrister noted his client could have taken steps to put his laptop “out of reach” but had not done so

Mr Cronin argued the offending material was relatively low in volume with a small portion of a total of 272 images in the most serious category.

Counsel for the DPP, Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, noted that Edmonds was maintaining he came across the material by accident during the course of research and had attempted to delete the offending images and videos.

In reply, Mr Cronin said his client now accepted what he had done and knew “ it was wrong.”

Judge Mary O’Malley Costello adjourned sentencing in the case as she expressed concern that a psychiatric report indicated “a level of non-acceptance of responsibility” and she needed to know the level of risk that Edmonds might re-offend.

“I need to see more acceptance and understanding of the very grave nature of these offences,” the judge said.

She remanded Edmonds on continuing bail and adjourned the case to a date in June to allow for preparation of a probation report

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