Saturday 17 November 2018

Man arrested on way to hotel to meet boy (14) 'he befriended on Tinder' is freed

'Limerick Circuit Court heard Shorthall had planned to meet a 14-year old boy at a hotel in the west of Ireland, after he ''befriended'' him via the dating app Tinder' (stock photo)
'Limerick Circuit Court heard Shorthall had planned to meet a 14-year old boy at a hotel in the west of Ireland, after he ''befriended'' him via the dating app Tinder' (stock photo)

David Raleigh

Gardaí intercepted a man en route to meet a 14-year-old boy at a hotel after he had "befriended" him on Tinder, a court has heard.

Colin Shorthall (31), with an address at Perry House, Perry Square, Co Limerick, subsequently pleaded guilty to producing or distributing child pornography and being in possession of child pornography.

Shorthall was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail but this was backdated to his arrest in May 2016 and he was released from custody.

Limerick Circuit Court heard Shorthall had planned to meet a 14-year old boy at a hotel in the west of Ireland, after he "befriended" him via the dating app Tinder.

But gardaí, acting on intelligence, intercepted him on route to the hotel.

The court heard Shorthall and the boy were in daily contact via Snapchat and sent each other sexually explicit photos of one another.

At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, it was heard gardaí also discovered more than 2,000 images and over 700 videos depicting child pornography on a laptop at Shorthall's home on February 10, 2016.

Videos were found on his mobile phone of an unidentified boy being "grossly sexually assaulted".

Charged

Shorthall initially appeared before Limerick District Court in May 2016, charged with one count of sexually exploiting a child, on a date between January 3, 2015 and February 10, 2016.

This charge was later withdrawn by the State.

Shorthall, originally from Wexford, subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of producing or distributing child pornography; two counts of possessing child pornography; and four counts of sending indecent or obscene messages on his mobile phone on dates between January 2015 and May 2016.

Judge Tom O'Donnell said the case highlighted the pitfalls of social media and "raises the thorny issue of access and supervision".

He noted there was no coercion or blackmail on the part of Shorthall.

He described the defendant as a "loner and an isolated individual" and he noted that a psychological report found Shorthall is at high risk of re-offending.

The judge noted the offence of possessing child pornography is not a victimless crime. Shorthall's name was added to the register of sex offenders.

Judge O'Donnell took into account all aggravating and mitigating factors and ordered the sentence be backdated to his arrest in May 2016.

Shorthall was then immediately freed as he had already served the duration of the sentence whilst in custody.

Irish Independent

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