Retired cleric caught with graphic images avoids jail
A FORMER Church of Ireland rector who was caught with 210 images of graphic child pornography has received a three-year suspended prison sentence.
Former rector of Roscrea, Co Tipperary, Canon Joseph Condell pleaded guilty in Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court to knowingly possessing child pornography consisting of still images and movie files on the hard drive of his computer and on a disc.
Some of the images uncovered by gardai included children as young as two engaged in sex with adults.
Judge Tom Teehan said he accepted that the child pornography uncovered was not in the most serious category, but pointed out that it was a matter of "considerable seriousness".
Condell, who is retired from his ministry and resigned from the Church of Ireland, was charged following a raid on the rectory in Roscrea in January 2002.
The court heard from Det Sgt James Madden, of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Harcourt Square, who said nobody else had access to the defendant's computer.
Following examination, a file entitled 'KNK' was recovered on the computer's hard drive. Judge Teehan heard that 'KNK' stood for 'Kid 'n' kid'. About 170 images of child pornography and three short movies showing "active sexual abuse of female children" were found. Another 40 child pornography images were found on a floppy disc.
Det Sgt Madden said he rejected Condell's claim that the images arrived onto his computer by a virus.
The defendant, who has no previous convictions, was ordained in 1973 and served in the parish of Roscrea for over 22 years since 1979 and had been tipped as a possible bishop. Condell held an eminent position and was looked up to by his community.
Judge Teehan said a degree of shame had been brought onto the defendant's family, congregation and community and the appropriate sentence had to reflect the gravity of the offence.
The three-year prison sentence was suspended on the grounds that Condell is of good behaviour for the same period.
He is due to begin group therapy with the Granada Institute and will receive continuous supervision from the Probation Services and the institute for four years.
Condell has also been registered on the sex offenders' list.