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Former deputy principal struck off for downloading and distributing child porn

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A former deputy primary school principal from Co Cork has been struck off the teaching register for downloading and distributing thousands of obscene images and videos of children, toddlers and babies.

Brian Fitzgerald (50) of Golf Links Road, Youghal, County Cork, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year after pleading guilty to one count of possessing child pornography and four counts of distributing child pornography on various dates been February and May 2017.

Mr Fitzgerald and his legal representation were not present at today’s inquiry at the Teaching Council in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

However, the ‘fitness to teach’ inquiry heard that he did not contest the proceedings and wanted the matter to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Following the hearing, the Teaching Council’s disciplinary committee revoked the former principal’s registration as a teacher for a minimum of 15 years.

Upon announcing its verdict, panel chair Elizabeth Cooney said the images and videos Mr Fitzgerald possessed depicted the most extreme abuse and violation of children, which included toddlers and babies.

“The panel finds it difficult to find words to express its condemnation of such conduct,” she said.

“It certainly agrees with the sentencing judge’s description that the acts involved are heinous and not victimless.”

The panel chair added that Mr Fitzgerald’s betrayal of trust was “total” and will inevitably take a toll on the trustworthiness of all his colleagues in the teaching profession.

“The message that any sanction must send to the teacher involved, the wider profession, and most importantly the wider public, must be one of unqualified condemnation and reassurance that the Teaching Council will not tolerate such conduct on the part of teachers,” Ms Cooney continued.

“The decision of the panel is that Mr Fitzgerald be removed from the register.

“In the panel’s view, Mr Fitzgerald has demonstrated that he is not a safe or suitable person to be placed in the position of authority over children and young people, either now or in the foreseeable future.

“On this basis, the panel specified a period of 15 years. The panel stresses that it expresses no view when, if ever, it will be appropriate for Mr Fitzgerald to apply to be restored to the register,” she said.

Gardaí, acting on foot of information received from the National Protective Services Bureau, searched Mr Fitzgerald's home in May 2017 following the posting of a pornographic image on a site under the user name 'School teacher',

More than 3,000 images and videos were found on electronic devices confiscated by gardaí.

The investigation also found that he had distributed 53 images to four separate people on four separate dates

Mr Fitzgerald was sentenced to three years in prison for the distribution of the child pornography, but suspended the final 18 months on the basis that he was 49 years old, has never been in trouble before, has lost his career, has attended a psychotherapist, has gained insight into his behaviour and has shown remorse.

The Teaching Council’s fitness to teach inquiry was the third to date to be held in public since it started hearing in recent years.

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