September 2013

Pervert spared jail for possessing child abuse images


A MAN, who had more than 50 images of child abuse on his computer at his Dublin 4 home, has been spared a jail sentence

Ronan Phelan, aged 44, from Sandymount Court, Beach Road, has pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to a charge of knowingly having child pornography in his possession at his home address, between June 1, 2006 and June 24, 2009.

The court heard that he had images of boys and girls aged as young as nine years.

He had admitted the offence at an earlier stage and the case had been adjourned until earlier today after the court had asked for probation reports on him to be prepared.

Garda Sergeant Barry Walsh told Judge Cormac Dunne that a warrant was obtained to carry out a search of the man’s home and his computer.

Phelan had 52 images of boys and girls aged between nine and 13 years on his computer. The children in the pictures were depicted in various methods of sexual stimulation and Gda-Sgt Walsh said the defendant would not have paid for these images.

He later made a voluntary cautioned statement to gardai admitting the offence and the court heard the Phelan had fully co-operated with detectives throughout the investigation.

His solicitor Michael Hanahoe said that when a individual looks at this type of material other similar images are often sent on to the person’s computer.

He said Mr Phelan admitted the offence to his employer and had tendered his resignation.

Mr Hanahoe asked the court to note that Phelan had co-operated fully with the Probation Service, and had been honest with them and has shown insight into his behaviour.

The judge also heard that the Probation Service believed Mr Phelan was at low risk of re-offending and it was not necessary for him to complete the Safer Lives (Sex Offender) Treatment Programme.

Judge Dunne said the court was very aware of the seriousness of the offence. He went on to say that adults have a duty, and a privilege, of care to protect children, who are among the most vulnerable in our society.

The judge, who had been furnished with the pre-sentence probation reports, said Phelan’s behaviour was somewhat explained by events that occurred in his life. He also said Phelan had been “100pc co-operative” with gardai and the Probation Service, and his remorse had been genuine.

Phelan had also admitted the offence immediately and instantaneously co-operated with the Probation Service, the court heard.

The judge sentenced him to 24 months’ probation and he was was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years.

Jurisdiction to deal with the prosecution at district court level had been accepted at an earlier stage stage in the proceedings when it was held that the case should not be sent forward to the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

The charge against Phelan was under Section 6.1 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

At district court level, it result in a fine and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months whereas a Circuit Court conviction for the same offence can result in a bigger fine and a sentence of up to five years.