Friday 26 December 2014

Mass-card seller guilty of child porn can travel to China

Brian Kavanagh

Published 26/02/2013 | 04:00

A MASS-card salesman jailed for 18 months for possessing hundreds of images of child pornography will get his passport back despite the objections of gardai.

Thomas McNally will be allowed to travel to China with his wife, notwithstanding evidence from gardai that if he failed to come back, there was "no way of getting him back".

Counsel for the State, Desmond Dockery, yesterday told the Court of Criminal Appeal that McNally had "acquired a Chinese wife".

Illness

McNally (52) was jailed for 18 months in October 2011 after a Longford Circuit Criminal Court jury found him guilty on two counts of possessing child pornography on February 6 and 7, 2006.

In January last year he was granted bail on compassionate grounds due to illness, pending an appeal against conviction and sentence. The court heard it could be another 18 months before his appeal.

Under the terms of bail imposed by the appeal court, McNally had to surrender his passport and not apply for any new travel documentation.

But the appeal court said it would now return his passport.

McNally, of Foynes Court, Longford, had earlier pleaded not guilty to the possession of 676 images of child pornography which were on A4 sheets.

More than half the images were discovered by investigating gardai in a field outside Longford, where a safe stolen from the home of the accused had been dumped.

Mr Dockery said McNally was no longer involved in his Mass-card business, his daughter was no longer living with him and he had no connection to Co Longford, the court heard.

Inspector Daniel Sweeney, the chief garda officer involved in the prosecution, told Mr Dockery that he did not believe McNally had any ties to Longford and was concerned he would pose a flight risk if his passport was returned.

"If he goes to China and doesn't come back we have no way of getting him back", Insp Sweeney told the court.

Taking to the stand, McNally said that he wished to accompany his wife to China for a week or two so that he may "comfort and support her" while she visits her ill mother in hospital.

He said his family and friends lived in Longford, a county where his parents were buried and where he intended to start a new travel business.

Connection

McNally told the court that he had no connection to China and had no foreign bank account, property or anything "to make it easy" for him to live there.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Nial Fennelly said although the court in the ordinary course of events would refuse the application, it had regard that there was no easy way to tell when McNally's appeal would be heard. He said the court would grant the return of the passport under the condition that McNally double the independent surety of €5,000 offered as part of the original bail terms and that he personally lodged €25,000 in court.

Irish Independent

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