Monday 19 November 2018

Garda (58) found guilty over child porn on his computer

Films showed boys aged 10 being subjected to sexual acts with men

Unanimous verdict: Joseph O’Connor was found guilty. Picture: Collins
Unanimous verdict: Joseph O’Connor was found guilty. Picture: Collins

Declan Brennan

A Garda will be sentenced next week after a jury found him guilty of possessing images and videos of children being subjected to sexual acts.

Joseph O'Connor (58), of west Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of possession of child pornography at his home on dates between July 30 and August 2, 2011.

During a search of his home on August 2, gardaí investigating other allegations seized a laptop. Analysis of the laptop found videos in the computer's "recycle bin" showing boys under the age of 10 being subjected to sexual acts.

Two depicted boys under 17 being subjected to sexual acts with a male adult. There were also multiple copies of 16 different images of children sexually exposed or being subjected to sexual acts.

The jury of 10 men and two women returned unanimous verdicts of guilty on four counts. The jury acquitted him on one count, which dealt with 56 duplicates of two images. He was found guilty of possessing the two originals, found in a computer folder labelled 'Spanked Boys'.

He was also convicted of possessing 15 explicit videos of child sex around August 2011. He was also convicted of possessing 56 images and 42 videos of children being subjected to explicit sexual acts and 41 images of children being sexually exposed.

Paul Carroll SC, defending, said O'Connor is a long-serving garda. He is suspended.

Judge Elma Sheahan remanded O'Connor on continuing bail to next Monday for sentencing.

After his arrest, O'Connor told gardaí he had never seen the material before and denied downloading it.

He said he believed that a man, Patryk Farrell, who came to his home for sex just days before the laptop was seized, had corrupted his computer.

Closing the State's case, Alice Fawsitt SC told the jury there was no evidence of any virus on the laptop and no evidence of anything that might have happened to it the weekend before it was seized.

Counsel for O'Connor told the jurors they must consider if it was possible the files were put on the computer by somebody else.

He said O'Connor told gardaí hundreds of men had come back to his home for sex and any of them could freely use his laptop. Mr Carroll said that on the day after they met for sex at O'Connor's home, Mr Farrell texted O'Connor and told him he was bruised and he was going to gardaí and would "destroy" him.

O'Connor went to gardaí to report Mr Farrell had stolen his Garda ID, handcuffs and cash from his home.

Counsel asked if it was reasonable his client knew Mr Farrell had made allegations to gardaí and didn't destroy his laptop knowing there was illegal material on it.

During legal argument in the absence of the jury the court heard gardaí went to O'Connor's home in August 2011 to investigate allegations of assault by Mr Farrell.

They seized the laptop and subsequently found the illegal images on it.

Mr Farrell's allegations were also forwarded to the Garda Ombudsman but Mr Farrell - since deceased - did not co-operate with this investigation and it was dropped.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News