Wednesday 13 December 2017

Former vice-principal jailed for downloading 289 child porn images

Olivia Kelleher

A FORMER vice-principal at a secondary school who had 289 images and six video files of child pornography on his computer was jailed for three months yesterday.

Father-of-two Anthony Caniffe had dealt with children all his life and he knew how vulnerable they were, Judge Con O'Leary said at Cork District Court.

The judge also said he was uncertain of the sincerity of Caniffe's expressions of remorse.

Caniffe (62), who now lives in Scotland, was found with the child pornography at his home in Donnybrook, Douglas, Co Cork, in October 2008. A guilty plea was entered in the case.

The judge said that when the case initially came before the courts Caniffe was intent on blaming other people. He suggested that Caniffe had learnt little over the two years since his arrest and that he had doubts as to his acceptance of his responsibility for his actions.

Barrister Sinead Behan, representing Caniffe, said her client was deeply ashamed of his actions and regretful of the hurt he had caused his wife and family. She said he was without previous convictions and that no complaints were ever made against him in the course of his teaching career.

Ms Behan said Caniffe accessed child porn at a time in his life when he was feeling isolated and depressed. She insisted her client understood the severity of his actions and stressed that he immediately co-operated with gardai once his actions came to light.

Vulnerable

She said her client had engaged in 30 sessions of counselling and six weeks of treatment at the Priory Centre in Glasgow, arising out of his arrest. She said the case had taken a tremendous toll on Caniffe and his wife.

"He has a tremendous sense of shame and remorse. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity. He acknowledges the harm he has done. They (Caniffe and his wife) have lived with this hanging over them."

In sentencing, the judge said Caniffe knew at all times that what he was doing was against the law. He told the court that the father of two knew that it was "wrong" and "serious" from day one.

"He was dealing with children all his life. He knows how vulnerable they are. He came in to court first saying 'it is not my fault'. He has learned nothing in two years except that you can be caught. He made a calculated decision to use illegal, exploitative, non-attributable sources."

He sentenced Caniffe to 10 months' imprisonment, suspending the last seven months of the sentence on the grounds that Caniffe enter a bond of €500 and agree to sign up to any course advised by the medical professionals. He ordered that Caniffe's name be placed on the sex offenders' register for five years.

At a previous hearing, the judge said he was concerned that because Caniffe did not pay for the images he thought he would not be tracked down by gardai.

Irish Independent

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