A Laois man caught with close to 500 images and videos of child pornography has been given a suspended jail sentence, with conditions that he pay €12,000 to children’s charity Barnardos and he agree not to use any internet-enabled device for the next five years.
Before Portlaoise Circuit Court was Charlie Robinson (21), Barrowhouse, Laois, charged with possession of child pornography, at his home on March 24, 2016.
The gardaí received notification that the IP address at the accused’s residence was used to download child pornography, so a search warrant was obtained and his iPhone and iPad were seized.
194 videos and 272 images of child pornography were found on his phone. The images were ranked at 3 to 4 on the ascending scale of gravity and included non-penetrative and penetrative sexual activity between adults and children.
In a voluntary statement to the gardaí, the accused admitted that he had access to child pornography over the past two years, via a site on the dark web. He said he did not watch most of the videos in his dropbox as he found them distressing.
Judge Keenan Johnson noted that it appeared the accused had a sex addiction and was addicted to watching adult pornography, which led him to access child pornography when he accidentally entered a site containing child pornography.
A probation report indicated that he was aroused by the activity displayed in the child pornographic images but that he had no interest in the fact that the actions were being perpetrated by young children.
“He is adamant that he does not have any interest in children and is not a paedophile,” said Judge Johnson.
An aggravating factor was that the accused had exchanged or bartered images with other parties who were accessing child pornography. However, Judge Johnson said that the court accepted the accused did not pay any money for the images and so “did not contribute to the revenues generated by the despicable child pornography industry”.
“The proliferation of child pornography on the internet is a curse on modern society. People like the accused who access these sites act as enablers to those who promulgate and produce child pornography,” said Judge Johnson. “Without people like the accused viewing child pornography the market for it would diminish and the motivation for producing it would be considerably reduced.”
Judge Johnson said that given the accused’s relative youth and lack of maturity at the time of the offences, it was likely that he did not see himself as an enabler and did not avert to the damage his actions were causing to the innocent children who are the victims of child pornography.
Judge Johnson imposed a two-year sentence, suspended for five years on condition the accused enter into a €500 peace bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years; he submit himself to probation supervision for two years; he remain under the psychiatric services; and he not have any unsupervised access to a smartphone or any other internet-enabled device for the term of the suspended sentence.
The judge directed the accused to replace his smartphone with a basic phone that provides only text and call facilities.
The accused was also directed to pay €12,000 to children’s charity Barnardos by four annual instalments of €3,000.