herald

Friday 25 July 2014

School principal had child porn images on computer

More than 100 child porn images were found on computers belonging to a school principal when gardai searched his home.

CIARAN O'FLANAGAN (58), of Killegland Rise, Ashbourne, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to knowingly having images of child pornography on a desktop computer on or about September 29, 2008, and to having child pornography on a laptop at his home on January 6, 2009.

O'Flanagan, a teacher since 1974, had been principal of St Kevin's Boys National School, Finglas, at the time of the offence but had since resigned, the court was told.

Garda Michael English told the court that 109 pornographic images were found on two laptops and a desktop computer when gardai searched this home in January 2009.

The computer equipment was analysed and one of the pictures was accessible but the rest of the material was inaccessible as it had been deleted.

The garda told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe that 98 images were of naked children while the remaining 11 were of girls engaged in sexual intercourse. All of the material related to young teenage girls and there were no male images.

The court heard the O'Flanagan had co-operated with the gardai and provided them with the passwords needed to access the images.

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O'Flanagan told gardai he had originally accessed the porn out of curiosity but it had then escalated and he had downloaded pictures and movie files.

He had denied ever purchasing or distributing the material but had been downloading, viewing and then deleting the images. Before his arrest he had been viewing the images two or three times a week.

According to a psychological report O'Flanagan had found some of the images stimulating.

A defence barrister said that since the offending came to light his client had not only resigned from the position as a national school principal but has also lived in self-imposed exile.

O'Flanagan wanted to apologise for his actions and acknowledged that he had let himself, his family, his colleagues and the community down. Judge Michael O Shea said that child porn was a very serious offence and a violation of young children that contributed to the sexual abuse of these young children.

He noted O'Flanagan had expressed remorse and said he was satisfied he now had empathy with the children who were exploited.

Judge O Shea imposed two concurrent two-year sentences but suspended each on condition O'Flanagan enter a bond to be of good behaviour for two years and undertake to attend group psychotherapy.

hnews@herald.ie

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