A man who encouraged teenage boys to send him naked photos of themselves by posing as a 17-year-old girl on Facebook has been jailed for 18 months.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that during garda interviews, Mark Keogh (29) repeatedly claimed that his motivation was because he believed he had an abnormality with his own private parts and he wanted to see if anyone else was the same.
When gardai raided his home they found more than 700 sexually explicit images of children, around 400 of which were images of the 12 victims.
Some of the boys were asked to send photos of themselves engaged in sex acts, while three were asked to send an image of themselves interacting with a dog.
Keogh's barrister said his client was not confused about his own sexuality but had "a concern about the presentation of his own penis".
He had previously been booked in for surgery but this did not go ahead.
Judge Martin Nolan suspended the final three-and-a-half years of a five-year prison term. He said but for Keogh's underlying problems his sentence would be considerably longer.
He noted that Keogh has "severe autism", psychiatric and psychological problems and needs specialist help for the rest of his life.
"He is very familiar with the internet and he abused this in a very criminal way. He is an intelligent man and I've no doubt he knew what he was doing was wrong," the judge said.
Judge Nolan said he had no doubts that the victims were "seriously embarrassed" and it was very serious offending.
Keogh, of Balla Road, Castlebar, Co Mayo, pleaded guilty to 14 charges of sexual exploitation of a child on dates between November 2013 and May 2014 and possession of child pornography at his then home in Kerdiff Close, Naas, Co Kildare, on February 9, 2016.
He has no previous convictions and the offending came to light after he had stopped carrying it out.
Garda Leona Lennon told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that one boy's parents attended a local station and expressed concerns over the contact their son had had with a person on Facebook.
This led to an investigation, with gardai discovering that Keogh had set up a Facebook account under a fake name, 'Nicole Doyle', in July 2013.
He then made friends with 14 boys, aged 13 to 16 and sent them a total of 321 requests for naked photos of themselves. Two of the boys declined to do so.
Gda Lennon said gardai also identified an IP address in connection with the fake Nicole Doyle account which directed them to two addresses for Keogh.
His home at the time, in Naas, was searched in February 2016 and a laptop he was using was confiscated.
Gda Lennon said Keogh engaged in general conversation with each of the boys through Facebook after sending them friend requests.
He would then ask them for photos. All the teenagers believed they were engaging in conversation with a 17-year-old named Nicole Doyle.
All of the images were found in the recycle bin on Keogh's laptop in a folder entitled 'Mine - Virus do not open'.
There were further sub-folders which held images of each of the boys which bore the children's initials.