Sunday 21 July 2019

Swords man spared jail a second time over child pornography possession

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A former nurse given a suspended sentence for possession and distribution of child pornography has been spared jail a second time, despite an appeal by prosecutors to jail him.

Steven McGinty (47), of Cherry Garth in Swords, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of 260 images and four video files of child pornography stored on a laptop at his home on October 24, 2013.

He also pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography within the state on dates between August 2006 and October 2013, as his computer showed that some material had been shared with others.

McGinty was given a wholly suspended sentence by Judge Karen O'Connor on March 15, 2018.

The Director of Public Prosecutors sought a review of his sentence on grounds it was 'unduly lenient'. However, the Court of Appeal on Wednesday deemed it within the range available to the Circuit Court judge and dismissed the DPP's appeal.

Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said McGinty handed himself into Swords Garda station, the day after his laptops were seized by gardaí. He provided passwords to his computers and his remorse appeared to be genuine, the judge said.

A probation report found McGinty to have a low risk of reoffending and he had no previous convictions. He had engaged with psychiatric services and due to the nature of the offences, he lost his job as a nurse.

The DPP argued that the sentencing judge erred in failing to impose a sentence that reflected general deterrence, or the need to send out a message to wider society that this type of offending was not acceptable.

It was argued that offences of this type were capable of being committed in private and there existed the potential for large numbers of offenders to go undetected.

Mr Justice McCarthy said the question of general deterrence weighed heavily in cases of this nature. Crimes were often committed in private and were difficult to detect. It placed a premium on the need to deter others engaged in this conduct.

He said the underage victims depicted in the material were often deprived persons 'with no voice' and anyone viewing the material was 'complicit'.

Despite the manner in which McGinty responded to his detection, the judge said, expeditious resolution of the case didn't happen due to a lack of Garda resources. Although McGinty presented himself to gardaí in 2013, his computer was not examined until 2015, at which time he was charged.

He said the decision to suspend McGinty's sentence fell at the 'very outer limit' of the Circuit Court judge's margin of discretion but did not fall outside of the available range.

Mr Justice McCarthy, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Marie Baker, dismissed the DPP's appeal.

Fingal Independent