herald

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Garda found guilty of having images of children in sex acts

Joseph O’Connor had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Photo: Collins Courts
Joseph O’Connor had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Photo: Collins Courts

A jury has convicted a garda of possessing images and videos of children being subjected to sexual acts.

Joseph O'Connor (58), of west Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of possessing child pornography at his home on dates between July 30 and August 2, 2011.

During a search of his home, gardai investigating other allegations seized a laptop and found videos in its 'recycle bin' depicting boys aged under 10 being subjected to sexual acts.

Two videos depicted boys under 17 being subjected to sexual acts with a man.

There were also multiple copies of 16 images of children sexually exposed or being subjected to sexual acts.

Explicit

After a little over two hours of deliberations, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on four counts.

O'Connor was acquitted of one count dealing with 56 duplicates of two images. However, he was found guilty of possessing the original images, which were found in a computer folder named 'Spanked Boys'.

He was also convicted of possessing 15 explicit videos of child sex and possessing 56 images and 42 videos of children being subjected to explicit sexual acts and 41 images of children being sexually exposed.

Paul Carroll SC, defending, said O'Connor was a long-term garda and had been suspended since these matters arose.

He asked for time for his client to be able to gather reports for the sentence hearing.

Judge Elma Sheahan remanded O'Connor on continuing bail to next Monday.

After his arrest, O'Connor told gardai that he had never seen the material before and said somebody else must have downloaded the files.

He said he believed that a man called Patryk Farrell, who came to his home for sex days before the laptop was seized, had corrupted his computer.

Closing the State's case, Alice Fawsitt SC told the jury there was no evidence of any virus on the laptop and no evidence of anything happening to it the weekend before it was seized.

Mr Carroll said his client told gardai that hundreds of men had come back to his home for sex and that any of them could freely use his laptop.

Counsel said that on the day after they met for sex at O'Connor's home, Mr Farrell texted O'Connor and told him he was bruised and that he was going to gardai and would "destroy" him.

O'Connor went to gardai to report that Mr Farrell had stolen his garda ID, handcuffs and cash from his home.

Assault

During legal argument in the absence of the jury, the court heard that gardai went to O'Connor's home in August 2011 to investigate allegations of assault by Mr Farrell.

They seized the laptop in connection with this investigation and subsequently found the illegal images on it.

The jury was told that Mr Farrell's allegations were also forwarded to the Garda Ombudsman but Mr Farrell did not co-operate with this investigation and it was dropped.

The jury also learned that an investigation by Inspector Colm Fox, who has since died, found there was no basis for the allegations of false imprisonment, rape or sexual assault.

In his report, Insp Fox said the injuries alleged by Mr Farrell, who has also since died, were consequences of sexual acts.

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