Saturday 21 September 2019

Jury begin deliberating in trial of garda accused of possessing child porn

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

Declan Brennan

The jury has begun deliberating in the trial of a garda accused of possessing images and videos of children being subjected to sexual acts.

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.

During a search of his home on August 2 gardaí seized a laptop. Investigators analysed the laptop and found videos in the computer's “recycle bin” depicting boys under the age of ten being subjected to sexual acts.

Two videos 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.

Mr O'Connor told gardaí that he had never seen the material before and denied downloading it. He described it as sick and said somebody else must have downloaded the files.

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

Closing the State's case Alice Fawsitt SC told the jury that the prosecution is not required to prove that the accused viewed or did anything with the files. She said the State must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused knew the files were on his laptop.

She said 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.

Paul Carroll SC, defending, told the jurors they must consider if it was possible that the files were put on the computer by somebody else. He said Mr O'Connor told gardaí that hundreds of men had come back to his home for sex and that any of them could freely use his laptop.

Mr Carroll said that on July 29 Mr Farrell texted Mr O'Connor and told him he was bruised and that he was going to gardaí and he would “destroy” him. Mr O'Connor went to gardaí to report that Mr Farrell had stolen his garda ID, handcuffs and cash from his home.

Counsel asked if it was reasonable that his client knew Mr Farrell had made allegations to gardaí and didn't destroy his laptop.

“He has all these movies and he just puts them into a recycle bin? He doesn't go out and smash it up or throw it in the Liffey. He doesn't empty the recycle bin,” counsel said.

He said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Farrell or the “100s of men” didn't have something to do with the files.

After around two hours of deliberations Judge Elma Sheahan told the jury of ten men and two women to suspend deliberations until tomorrow morning.

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