Saturday 21 April 2018

Man (70) facing charges under Child Trafficking and Pornography Act is sole carer for disabled wife, court hears

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Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A 70-year-old man facing charges under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act has told a court he is of good character and raises money for charity.

The man was arrested in Mayo on Monday evening and charged under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 with restricting the personal liberty of a child for the purpose of his or her sexual exploitation.

The charge carries a possible prison term of 14 years.

The 70-year-old, who is originally from the UK, was today denied bail after gardai raised concerns about the seriousness of the charge and that he was a flight risk with no ties to the State.

The court heard that when charged, he replied: “nothing to say, need to speak to my solicitor.”

Inspector Tom Calvey told Castlebar District Court that he believed there would be further charges in the case.

The defendant appeared in court this morning dressed in a blue raincoat, red and white striped shirt and dark trousers.

The court heard he had lived in Ireland since 2002 and was the sole carer for his disabled wife who is wheelchair bound.

Garda Orla Browne told Judge Mary Devins that when gardai called to the home on Monday, the defendant's wife had made a report to gardai that she wasn't receiving the care she deserves from her husband.

"She is making arrangements to move back to England without him," she added.

Garda Browne told the court she was of the belief the defendant would not turn up for hearing if he was granted bail.

The accused addressed the court, informing Judge Devins he would provide a surety, surrender his passport and sign on as required.

“My wife is disabled, I’ve looked after her since 2002. We’re very happy here, we have a property, a little farm, we have dogs. She’s in a medical facility now because of this incident,” he said.

“Everybody knows us. I’ve been of good character and raised money for charities and I do good for the community.

“I don’t want to lose my wife, we are both very happy together in our cottage,” he added.

The court heard the couple had moved to Ireland in 2002 residing initially in Kerry before moving to Mayo. The accused has two sons from a previous marriage, both of whom live in England but said he has not returned to the UK since he moved here.

“It means everything to us, this has torn us apart. We could lose everything. I built up a good character over the past 10 years, I raised money for charity, I try to help anyone I can,” he added.

Judge Devins denied bail but said it could be revisited following clarification on an issue. She also deferred making a ruling on a legal aid application after the defendant told the court he receives monthly pensions from Ireland and the UK amounting to €1,650. This rises to €3,000 a month when his wife’s pension is included.

Judge Devins requested documentary evidence on his income.

The accused will appear before Harristown Court on Friday April 22.

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