independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Man caught with 3,200 child porn videos to be set free

Sentence reduced to two years on appeal

A MAN jailed for three years for possession of thousands of images of child pornography is to be set free after his sentence was cut to two years on appeal.

In May 2012, Bryan O’Byrne (34), with last addresses in Sandymount and Stepaside, was jailed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after he pleaded guilty to possession of 3,200 video clips of child pornography.

Based on what he had served so far, with remission for good behaviour factored in, his lawyers told the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) yesterday that he could be released immediately.

The CCA ordered that as well as a reduction in the three years to two, that he be placed under a post-release supervision order for three years.

The CCA heard gardai  found the material on expensive and sophisticated computer equipment as a result of a search on December 9, 2008, of his flat at Newbridge Avenue, Sandymount.  The Garda Paedophile Investigation Unit had received information on computer activity as a result of international co-operation.

O'Byrne had been carrying on his activities for quite a number of years and used a sophisticated system, described as an "eMule software programme" for obtaining the material, the CCA was told.

He had appealed the severity of his three year sentence arguing the sentencing judge had failed to give sufficient credit for the mitigating factors in the case.

These included his plea of guilty, his early admissions and his lack of relevant previous conditions, which would have brought his sentence below three years. It was also argued the images on his computer were not shared and he did not buy the material.

He also had serious medical difficulties, a tragic family background and upbringing and was subject to a serious assault in his twenties.

The State opposed his appeal saying the offences were at the very higher end of the scale.

Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell, presiding at the CCA,  said the images involved were at the very highest level of seriousness involving acts depicting the rape and sexual abuse of children of both sexes carried out by both adults and other children.

The sentencing of possessors of child pornography was "not a well worn or well lit path" where experience had built up a significant consensus on appropriate sentences, the judge said.

It is is in fact to venture into a relatively new and murky area where knowledge is still developing and there are few enough landmarks.

While the technology involved was ubiquitous, it is little understood, he said   There was increasing recognition that some offenders themselves may be damaged while others reveal "a chilling lack of awareness that their activities are wrong".

It was also increasingly clear there is no single template for all cases, he said.

This however was not a case where an unhealthy curiosity, coupled with limited understanding of the internet, led someone unwittingly through levels of adult pornography and on to sites with child pornography, he said.

This was a case that deserved an immediate custodial sentence but there were a number of extenuating circumstances including his early life and serious beatings by his father, measures he had taken to address his addiction to drugs and alcohol and the fact that he had been assessed at being at low risk of re-offending as long as he remains sober.

The CCA considered the sentencing judge did not give sufficient weight to the mitigating factors or sufficient consideration to seeking to ensure, upon his release from prison,  that he would have an incentive to continue to attend appropriate courses to avoid behaviour which would put him at risk of re-offending.

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