Friday 20 September 2019

Garda accused of possessing child porn said 'somebody else' must have downloaded sex images - trial hears

Joseph O'Connor (58) at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic Collins Courts
Joseph O'Connor (58) at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic Collins Courts
Joseph O'Connor (58), from west Dublin, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he has pleaded not guilty to five counts of possession of child pornography at his home in 2011. Pic Collins Courts.

Declan Brennan

A garda accused of possessing child pornography told investigators "somebody else" must have downloaded child sex images onto his laptop, a trial has heard.

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

Detective Superintendent Colm O'Malley told the jury that on June 21, 2012 he arrested the defendant and later interviewed him about images found on a Dell laptop seized from his home during a search in August 2011.

Videos found on the seized laptop showed boys under the age of ten subjected to sexually explicit acts. 12 movies retrieved showed boys between the age of ten and 17 with two files depicting children being subjected to explicit sexual acts with a male adult.

As garda interviewers took the accused through the child sexual images and videos, he repeatedly denied knowledge of them.

He told investigators: "I've never downloaded any of those images". 

Joseph O'Connor (58), from west Dublin, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he has pleaded not guilty to five counts of possession of child pornography at his home in 2011. Pic Collins Courts.
Joseph O'Connor (58), from west Dublin, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he has pleaded not guilty to five counts of possession of child pornography at his home in 2011. Pic Collins Courts.

He repeatedly said he'd never seen many of the images, which included children having sex with children, and described them as sick.

"I have never downloaded or viewed child pornography. Somebody else must have downloaded them," he told detectives. He said his laptop had no password and could be used by anyone coming into his house.

The defendant said he would bring men, who he met on "hook up" websites like Manhunt, back to his home and they would often use the laptop.

He said that in the days before the laptop was seized by gardai a man named Patryk (sic) Farrell met him at his home for sex. He said the next day his laptop "started going ballistic" and he was convinced Mr Farrell corrupted the computer.

The hard drive seemed to be spinning and "if you typed anything, what you typed wasn't appearing on the screen", he told Supt O'Malley.

He told gardai he spent most of the day ringing technical support in Pakistan and invited gardai to check his telephone records.

Paul Carroll SC, defending previously told the jury that his client was not challenging that the files found on the laptop amounted to child pornography but that "the real issue is how they got there".

The trial continues before Judge Elma Sheahan and a jury of ten men and two women.

Evidence

The defendant told investigators that in some of the images the people looked over age but denied having downloaded the images.

He identified some of the people in the images as adult friends of his, saying of one image; "That's Samuel, he's 28. That was put up in 2010".

Mr O'Connor told detectives that on the night of Thursday July 28 Mr Farrell came to his house and they had consensual sex. He said he knew Mr Farrell from before and that he had assaulted a man he knew but he "had never done anything to me".

He said Mr Farrell stole his official garda ID and €20. He said he realised after Mr Farrell had left his home and he got into his car and found Mr Farrell at a bus stop.

He confronted Mr Farrell and searched him and found the item as well as his handcuffs. He said Mr Farrell came after him saying the cash was his and he pushed Mr Farrell back.

"The f***ing eejit was still high or drunk. He fell back on his arse. Several people saw that," he said.

Mr Farrell got a bus into town and collapsed in a public place.

The jury heard of texts between the two men, with Mr O'Connor texting "why did you have to destroy a good night?" and Mr Farrell replying "I've been to the hospital" and saying that gardaí were shocked by the bruising on him.

The court heard that the defendant wrote back: "Are you claiming rape now and all?" and Mr Farrell replying "I'm very bruised, I will go to gardaí".

The court heard a complaint was made by Mr Farrell to the Garda Ombudsman and Inspector Colm Fox, since deceased, also carried out an investigation into allegations of rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment.

Garda Sergeant Kevin Menchen told Paul Carroll SC, defending, a report by Inspector Fox concluded that there was no evidence of these offences.

He said the alleged physical injuries were consequences of sexual acts.

The garda report detailed that Mr Farrell had 21 previous convictions for minor offences. A previous allegation of assault was found to be inconsistent with CCTV footage.

There was also details on the Garda Pulse records system of a named man calling gardaí to have Mr Farrell removed from his home and details of barring orders taken out against Mr Farrell.

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