Sunday 24 September 2017

Law preventing long supervision order in child porn case 'stupid'

Fiona Ferguson

A JUDGE who wanted to jail a man repeatedly caught with child pornography for four years has criticised the law that prevents him from imposing a lengthy supervision order on him once he is released from prison.

Judge Martin Nolan declared the situation stupid -- or "asinine" -- and commented that the more serious the sentence imposed, the less post-release supervision the court could order.

The judge had initially sentenced Barry Watters (36) to four years with the final year suspended and ordered five years' post-release supervision.

But he was told by lawyers that under the law, if a four-year sentence was imposed, the maximum period of post-release supervision he could order was one year.

Section 29 (1b) of the Sexual Offenders Act 2001 outlines that the aggregate of the sentence imposed and the period of supervision cannot exceed the maximum sentence for the offence, which in this case is five years.

Watters has two previous convictions for possession of child pornography, in 2008 and 2010, and had reoffended on each occasion within a number of months.

James McCullough, defending, said that if the court imposed a four-year sentence, the maximum period of post-release supervision was one year. Ronan Kennedy, prosecuting, concurred that the legislation as it stands did not allow the court to impose five years' post-release supervision.

Judge Nolan adjourned the case for one week to allow submissions as to how he can deal with the post-release supervision within a legal context.

Irish Independent

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