Sunday 22 July 2018

Former juvenile residential unit worker given suspended sentence for child porn possession

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Fiona Ferguson

A FORMER worker at a juvenile residential unit has been given a suspended sentence for possession of child pornography.

Philip Devereux (51) was tracked through his email address after the Toronto Police Department passed on information to INTERPOL relating to individuals who had bought DVDs from a Canadian company involved in the distribution of child pornography.

Devereux, of St Michan's House, Greek Street, Dublin , pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography at his home on January 9, 2013. He has no previous convictions.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard gardaí recovered a laptop containing 24 images, a floppy disk containing six child sex stories and 13 DVDs containing images of nude or partially nude pre-pubescent boys.

Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted the quantity of images in this investigation was not too great but said it was nevertheless a serious case.

He noted that Devereux had pleaded guilty, co-operated with the gardaí and handed over his devices and passwords. He said Devereux had no prior record and had taken steps to address his problem.

The judge took into account a psychologist's report, as well as Devereux's strong work history and support from some members of his family.

Judge Nolan noted the case had been “hanging over” Devereux, as it had been delayed by a lack of resources to deal with the “avalanche” of material to be analysed at the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB).

He said the higher courts had given direction that in a case where an accused person had no criminal record and there was no distribution or other aggravating factors, then a non-custodial sentence should be considered. Judge Nolan said in relation to Devereux he did not feel a custodial sentence was justified. He imposed a two and a half year sentence which he suspended in full.

Garda Shane Connolly told Sinead McGrath BL, prosecuting, that gardaí received confidential information via INTERPOL in relation to names, addresses and invoices relating to individuals who had bought DVDs from a Canadian company involved in the distribution of child pornography.

Gardai traced Devereux through his email address which was listed as having ordered material.

During a search carried out at Devereux's home in January 2013, he admitted having accessed child pornography on the internet and gave gardaí an overview of his internet use, as well as his email passwords. Gardai seized electronic media storage, a laptop and DVDs.

The items were passed to the GNCCB and analysed there in 2017.

Devereux was arrested by appointment in March 2017.

Gda Connolly agreed with Bernard Condon SC, defending, that his client had been proactive in presenting himself to gardaí in relation to the sex offenders register. He agreed that it had taken four years to have the equipment analysed by gardaí, saying there was a “large backlog” of material at that office.

Mr Condon said that it had been a number of years since the offending, that Devereux had not come to any further Garda attention and had been making efforts to rehabilitate.

He handed in a number of letters and a psychologist's report which outlined matters including that Devereux had some difficulties in his personal development in identifying his sexuality. He has been attending counselling and has support from some members of his family.

Mr Condon said his client had been in employment all his life and at the time had been working at a residential unit. He said Devereux had been suspended from work without pay.

He asked the court to take into account that the conviction would have very significant consequences for his client and would be a mark on him forever.

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