Wicklow man who discussed having sex with children escapes jail time

Arklow man received a three year suspended prison sentence

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Seán McCárthaighWicklow People

A Wicklow man who engaged in text exchanges about having sex with children to impress several individuals has received a three-year suspended prison term.

A sitting of Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court heard the man had on one occasion discussed with a transgender Brazilian sex worker about drugging a child in order to have sexual contact with the victim.

Barry Nugent (34) of Church View, Arklow, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty to a single count of producing child pornography in the form of text messages on dates between January 2016 and June 2018 contrary to Section 5 of the Child Pornography and Trafficking Act 1998.

The court heard on Wednesday that Nugent had engaged in three conversations with different transsexuals in which he discussed having sexual acts with underage children as part of what were described as “sexual fantasies.”

In one text exchange, there was a total of 424 messages in a conversation about sexual acts with under-18s in which Nugent said he would “not go below teens.”

In a discussion about a 15-year-old boy, Nugent wrote: “Yes. That’s kind of hot. I wouldn’t mind filling him up.”

The court heard that one of the individuals had texted Nugent about loving to have sex with 15-17-year-olds to which Nugent replied: “Stop – me too. They are all so filthy.”

Detective Garda David Smith said the accused had come to the attention of gardaí via an investigation into a transgender Brazilian escort, Bruno Binda De Souza, also known as Bruna Meirelles.

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Det Garda Smith said Nugent had been identified as a result of an analysis of devices taken from Meirelles and the defendant’s laptop was seized during a search of his home in June 2020.

The witness said the accused had admitted meeting Meirelles on six or seven occasions for casual sex after they had met on a dating site.

Meirelles or De Souza (33) of Brabazon Hall, Cork Street, Dublin 8 was jailed for three years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March 2021 after being found in possession of thousands of “depraved” child abuse images.

One of her convictions related to conversations she had with Nugent.

Det Garda Smith said Nugent and Meirelles had texted about drugging a child in order to have sexual contact with the child.

He said they had discussed having to be careful about the dosage to be given to ensure they were finished before its effect on the child had worn off.

Det Garda Smith said Nugent had admitted after he was arrested in June 2021 that he had engaged in “kinky” conversation with Meirelles in order to impress her as he regarded her as “out of his league.”

“I thought I would impress her and keep her interested. She was tall and domineering even in texts,” he told gardaí.

Det Garda Smith told counsel for the DPP, James Kelly BL that Nugent said he never intended to act out any of his sexual fantasies and had only engaged in sexualised text messages “to turn them on.”

Under cross-examination by counsel for the accused, Edmund Sweetman BL, the witness accepted that Nugent had engaged in sexual fantasies by text in order to impress Meirelles.

Det Garda Smith also agreed there was no evidence to suggest that Nugent ever tried to live out his fantasy with any child and he accepted the accused was genuinely remorseful for his actions.

“He didn’t seem to understand what he was doing was wrong until it was explained to him,” the detective observed.

Mr Sweetman observed that his client, who had no previous convictions, had engaged in “disturbing and revolting but essentially private messages”.

The barrister said Nugent’s offending was not linked to any lifestyle issues but he was someone who was “slightly introverted” and who had “a lack of social contact.”

He said the offence occurred during “a period of promiscuity” in his life which had resulted in the break-up of his relationship with his child’s mother.

However, Mr Sweetman said Nugent’s life had now stabilised and he was in a relationship with a new partner who was aware of his offence.

Counsel said his client’s offending could be considered different from other forms of child pornography as it was “the filthy rambling of someone’s mind shared with another in a private chat.”

Pleading for a non-custodial sentence, he pointed out that Nugent had not shared any pornographic images of children and no child had actually been under threat.

Mr Sweetman said the accused, who works as a security guard, had a “wrong, immature fixation with a transgender person.”

Sentencing Nugent to three years in prison, Judge Patrick Quinn said he would suspend the full term due to the exceptional circumstances of the case.

The judge accepted that the offending texts which covered a three-year period were confined to private chats with three other individuals which were “not for wide internet consumption.”

He noted they had not been initiated by Nugent who had engaged with other individuals in order to impress them.

Judge Quinn said he was satisfied from a psychological report that Nugent had no sexual orientation towards young children.

He also noted that there was never any question that the defendant would carry out any of his fantasies.

The judge observed that Nugent was originally assessed at being at a moderate risk of re-offending which had been reduced to low risk after he underwent counselling.

He remarked that the accused only realised the gravity of his offence over time but now found what he did was “personally revolting as indeed he should.”

Judge Quinn suspended the term of imprisonment for a period of five years on condition that Nugent places himself under the supervision of the Probation Service and agrees to undergo any recommended counselling and treatment programmes.