herald

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Editor found with child porn will escape prison

bail: German police sparked search

A FORMER editor who had hundreds of child pornography images stored on his computer will likely get a suspended sentence if he does not reoffend, a Circuit Court judge has said.

John McDonnell (26) had 268 images of children in various forms of sexual abuse. Gardai were alerted after German police informed them that McDonnell's internet protocol (IP) address had been used to access child porn sites.

Many of the images were stored under his user name in the My Documents folder. He had attempted to delete most of them but they could still be found.

McDonnell of Grosnevor Square, Rathmines, used to work in an "editor-type position" but quit when charges were brought against him. It was not stated in court who he worked for. He is now again employed full-time in a media position.

Defence counsel, Bernard Condon, said he first became interested in such images when he was 15 and he started hanging around with a group of "geeks".

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of child pornography at his family home at Hyne Valley Way, Rathfarnham on November 24, 2007.

Detective Garda Paul Shaw told prosecuting counsel, Tara Burns , that acting on a tip-off from German police, gardai searched McDonnell's family home, and seized several items of computer equipment.

These were analysed by experts and the images were found on two desktop computers. The ages of the children in the pictures varied between six and 15.

McDonnell co-operated fully with gardai and handed in a prepared statement to them detailing his offending. He said he had been viewing the images for several years and had tried to stop on several occasions but failed.

"I knew what I was doing was terrible and that these people are terrible," he told gardai. Garda Shaw agreed that McDonnell was disgusted with himself and was remorseful.

Mr Condon said he came from a good family and had the support of them and his partner in court. He was regarded as being at a low to medium risk of reoffending.

He said, on leaving school, his client had completed several training courses before getting a job in the media and was now in stable employment.

Judge Tony Hunt agreed to adjourn the matter and indicated he would not impose a custodial sentence as long as there is no further offending. He remanded McDonnell on bail and ordered that his computer be subjected to a surprise search at some point before sentencing.

hnews@herald.ie

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