Sunday 24 March 2019

Veteran garda (58) jailed for two years after child porn found on his laptop

Jailed: Joseph O’Connor. Picture: Collins
Jailed: Joseph O’Connor. Picture: Collins

Declan Brennan

A garda convicted of possessing images and videos of children being sexually abused has been jailed for two years.

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

In August 2011, gardaí investigating an allegation of assault made against O'Connor seized evidence from his home, including a laptop. An analysis of the laptop found videos in the computer's 'recycle bin' depicting boys under the age of 10 being sexually abused.

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 with other children.

After a trial last November, a jury convicted him of four counts. The jury acquitted him of one count which dealt with 56 duplicates of two images found on his laptop.

Detective Superintendent Colm O'Malley told the court, at a hearing last month, that O'Connor had been a garda for 25 years before his suspension from duty in 2012.

He agreed with Paul Carroll SC, defending, that O'Connor had a good work record and had not re-offended since these offences came to light.

Yesterday, Judge Elma Sheahan noted the severity of the images and quoted a previous judgment which states that even though these type of images are private "they cannot be created without a child being violated somewhere, often unspeakably".

She said his position as a garda meant his offending brought that organisation into disrepute and placed his culpability at a high level. Against that, she said, a term of imprisonment will bring an additional hardship because of this position.

A psychologist report placed O'Connor at a low risk of re- offending but Judge Sheahan said it was difficult to take this into consideration as there was no acceptance of responsibility and no willingness to engage in therapy.

She set a headline sentence of three-and-a-half years which she reduced to two years after taking into consideration O'Connor's position as a garda and the support of his family.

Irish Independent

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