herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

Bar manager in court accused of having child porn on laptop

Accused allegedly had 13 videos and 22 images on computer
Accused allegedly had 13 videos and 22 images on computer

A bar manager has been charged with possession of child pornography on a computer at his home.

Matthew Johnston (30) was granted bail subject to a ban on all internet access when he appeared in court accused of having illegal videos and images.

Judge John Hughes adjourned the case for the directions of the DPP after hearing that a "complex" investigation was under way.

Mr Johnston is charged with possession of child pornography at his home at Brabazon House, Cork Street, in the south city centre, last November 19.

Monitored

The charge alleges that he had 13 video files and 22 images on a laptop.

Gda Tara Dolan gave evid- ence of arrest, charge and caution at Dublin District Court.

She said she had no objection to bail subject to conditions, including a ban on social media use.

Gda Dolan said social media platforms could be monitored, including the Snapchat app.

Judge Hughes asked if Mr Johnston was in employment, and defence barrister Garrett Casey said he worked as a bar manager.

The judge asked if Mr Johnston required use of technology for his work. The court heard he only needed to be contactable by mobile phone.

"It doesn't have to be a smartphone," Gda Dolan said. Mr Casey said that would be "fine".

Mr Johnston's phone had been seized by the gardai.

Judge Hughes said it was a "serious matter". He noted there were no garda bail objections and Mr Johnston was presumed innocent and entitled to bail "regardless of the seriousness of the charge".

He granted bail subject to the accused signing on four times a week at a garda station and surrendering his passport.

The accused is not to have access to the internet or any social media platforms "directly or indirectly, in any manner, for any reason save with prior permission from the gardai", the judge said.

That meant not only at his own address but anywhere, the garda said.

Mr Johnston is not to have contact with any witnesses, must reside at his given home address and notify gardai of any change of address.

Warned

Sgt Gail Smith said it was a complex investigation and suggested a three-month adjournment.

Judge Hughes put the case back to a date in January for the garda to "see where they are with the computer''.

He warned that if Mr Johnston breached bail conditions he could be remanded in custody.

Mr Casey applied for free legal aid, submitting a statement of the accused's financial means to the court.

Judge Hughes granted this, given the seriousness of the case.

Mr Johnston was not required to enter a plea during the hearing and was released on bail shortly after.

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