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Former childcare worker jailed for nine months over child abuse images

Vile images received as part of international WhatsApp group


Former childcare worker Evelyn Ajie. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Ltd

Former childcare worker Evelyn Ajie. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Ltd

Former childcare worker Evelyn Ajie. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Ltd

A FORMER childcare worker was jailed for nine months for distributing vile child abuse images including a video involving the abuse of a small baby.

Cork District Court heard that gardaí were alerted to the offensive images forwarded by grandmother and mother-of-four Evelyn Ajie (51) by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and IT giants Google.

Ajie - of Clifton Terrace, Summerhill North Cork and formerly from Nigeria - received the images as part of a WhatsApp group with members across Europe and Africa including Italy, Spain and Nigeria.

She pleaded guilty to three charges before Judge Olann Kelleher at Cork District Court.

Two charges included that she knowingly distributed child abuse images whereby she knowingly showed it or facilitated any activity for the purpose of distribution, publication, exportation or show on September 1, 2019 and October 5, 2019.

The third charge was that she knowingly had in her possession three videos described as child abuse images and which were stored on an electronic device.

Garda Sergeant Pat Lyons said it was a very unusual case.

Ajie received the child abuse videos, which involved the sexual abuse of a baby and a pre-pubescent boy of 12, as part of the WhatsApp group and then forwarded them on to others.

The matter was brought to Garda attention last year by NCMEC and Google. Gardaí acted immediately and seized Ajie’s Samsung Galaxy phone.

Defence solicitor Pat Horan explained that his client, who was born in Nigeria, had lived in Ireland for 18 years.

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She is a grandmother and had worked in a crèche between 2012 and 2015 before having to quit the work on health grounds.

He told the court she is now housebound because of chronic ill health. She has severe arthritis which makes any movement difficult and also suffers from cataracts.

Mr Horan said his client was terribly upset by what had occurred.

He stressed that she made voluntary statements to gardaí and fully accepted her culpability.

Mr Horan pointed out that Ajie has no previous convictions and deeply regretted what had happened.

“(She is) accepting responsibility and not making any excuse,” he said.

However, Judge Kelleher warned that the matter was extremely serious and pointed out that the defendant “knew exactly what she was doing”.

He noted that the matter involved was not a simple mistake or a once-off incident.

Judge Kelleher warned that it was not a victimless crime and that the court had a duty of care to the unfortunate victims in the matter.

He said the serious nature of the offences involved had to be marked by a custodial sentence.

Ajie - who has four children and eight grandchildren - was jailed for nine months.

Judge Kelleher refused to suspend any portion of the sentence.

It had previously been indicated by the Director of Public Prosecutions that Cork District Court could only accept jurisdiction in the matter on the basis of a guilty plea - otherwise the matter would refer to Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Ajie has lodged an appeal against her nine month sentence.

She lodged €500 in a bond and was released on bail pending the hearing of the appeal.

Judge Kelleher adjourned the matter until March 15 next.

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