Wednesday 23 May 2018

Father-of-four avoids jail over possession of child porn images

Brian Manning (52) of St Finbarr's Close, Greenhills, Dublin leaves the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after receiving a suspended sentence. He previously pleaded guilty to a single count of possessing 37 images and one video classified as child pornography.
Pic Collins Courts.
Brian Manning (52) of St Finbarr's Close, Greenhills, Dublin leaves the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after receiving a suspended sentence. He previously pleaded guilty to a single count of possessing 37 images and one video classified as child pornography. Pic Collins Courts.

Jessica Magee

A 52-year-old Dublin man has avoided jail for possession of child pornography, which he accessed via an instant messaging app on his phone.

Brian Manning, a father-of-four of St Finbarr's Close, Greenhills, Dublin pleaded guilty to a single count of possessing 37 images and one video classified as child pornography on March 15, 2017.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court previously heard that the images depicted mostly pre-teen girls engaged in explicit sexual activity with adults.

Manning was sentenced to 18 months fully suspended today on condition that he be supervised by the Probation Service for that period.

Judge Cormac Quinn said the headline sentence for the offence was two and a half years, but he was taking into account mitigating factors including Manning's early guilty plea and his remorse.  The judge said he was also aware of the fact that media coverage of the case had affected Manning's personal life and that his marriage had ended.

A probation report placed Manning at low risk of re-offending.

Garda Ronan Swan told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were made aware of the offence by Canadian authorities in February 2017.

The National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre in Canada said someone going by the username “biman4377” had been distributing child pornography over a social media software app called Kik Messenger.

Gda Swan said Kik Messenger, an instant messaging app for mobile devices, offers a certain amount of anonymity as only a username and address is required to set up an account.

The court heard that an investigating garda contacted Virgin Media who confirmed that two images of child pornography had been sent from an IP address registered to Manning. Manning voluntarily attended Crumlin Garda Station by request and made admissions.

His Samsung S5 phone was seized and a forensic examination revealed 37 photos and one video. Manning was arrested, cooperated fully with gardaí and made an early guilty plea.

He said he had used the Kik Messenger service for less than a year but that he no longer used it and no longer viewed child pornography.

“I was in a bad place at the time,” he told gardaí, adding that he knew it was wrong and that he was sorry.

“For me it was more about the chat and fantasy world, it wasn't about the pictures. If I did send images, I don't remember doing that,” he said.

“People just posted in chatrooms. I'm so sorry for even looking at them. I seen (sic) them in chatrooms, I didn't intentionally download them and I didn't knowingly store them,” said Manning.

“I tried not to store these on my phone, I just deleted them. It was accidental that they were saved to my phone,” he said, but accepted that he had made “lewd comments” about pictures.

Manning said that in “real life” he only liked women and did not have sexual attraction to children.

“I know what I did was wrong. The only thing I can do now is conduct myself properly for the rest of my days. If I'm prosecuted I know I'm going to destroy my whole family, who don't deserve it – I do,” Manning told gardaí.

He has two previous convictions dating back to the 1980s for an assault in a pub and being drunk and disorderly.

Gda Swan told Paul Carroll SC, defending, that Manning seemed “extremely remorseful, fully aware of the gravity of the situation and fully cooperative”.

Mr Carroll said that Manning's wife had become aware of the images and that Manning had attended counselling for a time in 2015.

The court heard that Manning had experienced certain financial and marital difficulties between 2010 and 2014 and had become somewhat estranged from his wife and increasingly isolated, inward-looking and depressed.

Mr Carroll said his client turned towards the internet and that what started out as some sort of “bizarre messaging between adults” became “more and more deviant” to the point that images were being sent by others, which Manning was accessing.

A psychologists' report did not recommend any intervention.

Judge Quinn ordered Manning to apply for assessment for treatment on a sex offenders' programme.

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