herald

Monday 1 September 2014

Mass card salesman appealing child porn jail term allowed go to China

A mass card salesman jailed for 18 months for possessing hundreds of images of child pornography will be reinstated with his passport, allowing him to travel to China with his wife, despite the objections of gardai.

The Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday said it would return the passport of Longford man Thomas McNally, notwithstanding evidence from gardai that if the applicant failed to come back from a trip to China with his wife there was "no way of getting him back".

McNally (52) was jailed for 18 months in October 2011 after a Longford Circuit Criminal Court jury found him guilty on two counts of possessing child pornography on February 6 and 7, 2006.

In January last year he was granted bail on compassionate grounds due to illness pending an appeal against conviction and sentence. Under the terms of bail imposed by the appeal court McNally had to surrender his passport.

McNally, of Foynes Court, Longford, had pleaded not guilty to the possession of 676 images of child pornography which had been downloaded and printed on to A4 sheets.

More than half the images were discovered by investigating gardai in a field outside Longford, where a safe stolen from the home of the accused had been dumped.

Counsel for the State, Desmond Dockery, yesterday told the appeal court that McNally had "acquired a Chinese wife" and now wished to travel extensively in circumstances where he was no longer involved in his Mass card business, his daughter was no longer living with him, and he had no connection to Longford.

 

Risk

Inspector Daniel Sweeney, the chief garda officer involved in the prosecution, told Mr Dockery that he was concerned that McNally would pose a flight risk if his passport was returned.

Taking to the stand, McNally told his counsel, Padraig Dwyer, that he wished to accompany his wife to China for a week or two so that he may "comfort and support her" while she visits her ill mother in hospital.

He said that his family and friends lived in Longford, a county where his parents were buried, his family home was situated and where he intended to start a new travel business.

Mr Dwyer told the court that McNally's case would not be given priority as he was on bail and this, taken in conjunction with the pressure on case listings, meant it could be another 18 months before his appeal comes on.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Nial Fennelly said that although the court in the ordinary course of events would refuse the application, it had regard to Mr Dwyer's "telling point" that there was no easy way to tell when McNally's appeal would be heard.

He said the court would grant the return of the passport under the condition that McNally double the independent surety of €5,000 offered as part of the original bail terms and that he personally lodge €25,000 in court.

hnews@herald.ie

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