Wednesday 18 July 2018

‘Child porn garda’ can be named at 5pm today

Judge David McHugh (above) has put a stay on an order allowing the media to name a garda accused of possession of child porn
Judge David McHugh (above) has put a stay on an order allowing the media to name a garda accused of possession of child porn

Eimear Cotter

A JUDGE has put a stay on an order allowing the media to name a garda accused of possession of child porn pending the man's decision to challenge the order in the High Court.

The Dublin-based garda is accused of having hundreds of images of child porn at his home.

He is facing trial on the charge after he denied the allegation.

The long-serving member of the force, who is 53, was allegedly caught with more than 650 images of child porn following a search of his home in west Dublin by detectives.

At Blanchardstown District Court, Judge David McHugh lifted reporting restrictions on naming the garda following applications and legal argument by lawyers from Independent Newspapers and RTE.

However, the judge put a stay on the order until 5pm pending a decision by the garda's legal team to challenge his decision in the High Court.

The garda's solicitor, Matthew Kenny, had asked the judge to retain a previous order of anonymity, arguing the matter was a "wholly exceptional case".

Mr Kenny said revealing the identify of the frontline garda, who is homosexual, would put him in peril, and he had a genuine fear of "attack or recrimination".

Mr Kenny also argued there was a real risk of an unfair trial if the garda was named.

Solicitor for Independent Newspapers, Tony Williams, of Simon McAleese Solicitors, and John Fitzgerald BL, for RTE, argued that justice must be administered in public and it was very difficult to see how the disclosure of the garda's identity would affect his ability to receive a fair trial.

Judge McHugh said he was lifting the reporting restrictions as he did not believe there was a real risk the garda would not receive a fair trial.

However, he put a stay on the order until 5pm to allow the garda to decide if he will appeal the decision to the High Court.

The garda was before Blanchardstown court charged with possession of child pornography, contrary to Section 6(1) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.

The alleged incident took place at an unknown date between July 30 and August 2 2011 at his home in west Dublin.

It is alleged that the officer had 655 images and movie files of child explicit sex, child exposure and computer graphic images.

He allegedly had 92 images of child explicit sex, 136 images of child exposure, 85 movies of child explicit sex, one movie file of child exposure and 341 other computer graphic images of child porn.

The DPP previously directed summary disposal of the matter in the District Court on a guilty plea only. This means that if the garda denies the charge it will go forward for trial to the Circuit Court.

Mr Kenny said the garda denied the charge.

Mr Kenny asked Judge McHugh to mark the matter peremptory for the book of evidence, saying the accused is very anxious for the matter to proceed in a timely manner as he is under considerable "stress and anxiety".

The garda, who is stationed in Dublin but has been suspended from work, was previously granted free legal aid after a court heard he has a substantial mortgage and is struggling financially.

Judge McHugh  adjourned the matter for four weeks for the service of the book of evidence.

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