'He stepped off the precipice' - Dublin man (20) caught with graphic child pornography jailed for 15 months
A young Dublin man caught with graphic child pornography showing the sadomasochistic rape and torture of a baby girl has being jailed for 15 months.
Gardai found 5,919 images and 328 video files on two laptops belonging to Conor Emmet (20), when they raided his family home, after an intelligence operation involving the FBI and Europol.
Emmet, of North Way Estate Finglas, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing the digital images and movies on two laptops at his home on May 17, 2016.
The court previously heard that the graphic material was at the upper end of seriousness in such cases.
A garda memo of interview noted Emmet said he first accessed child pornography when he was aged 16 and that he told a psychiatrist he was “looking at it because it interested me”.
Today Judge Karen O'Connor said she had considered a non-custodial sentence but given the particular circumstances of the case she had no choice but to jail Emmet.
The judge said it was by no means a victimless crime and must be taken very seriously by the court.
“Graphic and explicit details were heard relating to the most disturbing abuse of a very young toddler, who has since been taken to safety but suffered serious injuries,” she said.
Judge O'Connor said most children exploited in these videos and images were vulnerable and came from backgrounds of severe poverty.
“These children must be protected,” she said.
She said mitigating factors included Emmet's early guilty plea, that he was a very good student, was involved in charity work and engaged in intensive rehabilitation where he made good progress.
Judge O'Connor noted he had no previous convictions and accepted full ownership of his actions.
“The defendant said in an interview during his rehabilitation course that he was glad he was caught,” she said.
The judge said she was aware Emmet had received enormous support from his parents, and that they were standing by him.
She referred to the “considerable amount of testimonial material” from relations, family friends and from the defendant himself.
“His mother's letter said he had never given his parents a day's worry or concern until this happened,” Judge O'Connor said.
She sentenced him to two-and-a-half-years in jail, suspending the final 15 months, and said it was noteworthy there was very often a higher amount of material in such cases. Judge O'Connor directed that Emmet undergo 15 months of post-release supervision.
The court previously heard that Emmet came to garda attention when the FBI began monitoring a Tor network after arresting an individual in America. A Tor network provides users with anonymity when accessing the dark web.
The FBI passed Irish users' IP addresses to Europol, who sent them to gardaí at the Online Child Exploitation Unit. Gardai then raided Emmet's family home in May 2016.
Tara Burns SC, defending, said Emmet had done great work to overcome what was obviously a sickness.
“There is no other way to explain this as it is truly and seriously dreadful,” she said.
She said he was from an extraordinarily good family, and his parents supported him throughout because “he is a kind, caring and loving person”.
“He stepped off the precipice and has broken his parents' hearts,” Ms Burns said.
Judge O'Connor noted the maximum sentence for this offence is five years.
At a previous hearing Detective Garda Brid Wallace from the Cyber Crime Bureau said the material spanned all categories of seriousness, and included video files showing the rape and torture of an 18 month old girl.
The court heard that this child has since been identified in Thailand and taken to safety.
“She has no recollection of the abuse but suffered serious internal damage and will not be in a position to have children when she is older,” Det Wallace said.
“The child's screams were heard throughout the video,” Det Wallace said.
Another of the videos showed the same child being held over a toilet and urinated on by a female, the court heard.
Det Wallace told Mr Cooney that gardaí also found an interactive book called “Welcome to Paedophilia Handbook” on Emmet's computer.
“This included sections entitled 'How to handle police and the public if things go wrong', 'How to have sex with kids in safe and rewarding ways' and 'Hunting season'”, Det Wallace said.