November 2019

Suspended sentence for Dublin man with child abuse videos

A 28-year-old Dublin man who viewed and distributed images and videos of child abuse has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

Lawyers for Alex McMillan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that his was an “exceptional” case, that he was at a low risk of re-offending and had co-operated with the investigation in every way he could.

Gardaí traced an email address for a member of a website associated with child pornography to McMillan’s home and seized his computer equipment there.

The investigation uncovered 48 images and 340 videos of child sexual abuse, some of which fell into the “most serious” category.

The court heard that in the five years since then, he has attended a psychologist and received counselling.

McMillan, of Beech Hill Drive, Donnybrook, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of child pornography on dates in July and August 2014. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the Court of Criminal Appeal had indicated that even where possession and distribution is present in a case, the court could still consider a non-custodial sentence.

He said he considered the distribution in this case to be at the lower end of seriousness. He said it was not general distribution but to “like-minded individuals.” He took into account that McMillan had this case hanging over him for a considerable amount of time due to a lack of Garda resources.

Judge Nolan said he thought he could deal with the case in a non-custodial way and imposed a three year sentence which he suspended in full.

Detective Garda Sinead O’Connor told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that gardaí came into possession of an email address for a member of a website associated with child pornography and were able to associate it with McMillan’s home address.

McMillan was present and was highly co-operative. He told gardaí he was a user of a file sharing network GigaTribe. He also handed over his passwords and access codes.

He said he used an internet browser frequently used to access the “dark web”.

McMillan said a person had sent him child pornography, which was how it started.

Gardaí analysed the equipment seized and found a total of 48 images and 340 videos. The investigator found 45 of the images and 251 of the videos fell into the most serious category of child pornography, depicting children engaged in or viewing explicit sexual acts.

Gardaí were also able to establish that a folder had been shared four times via GigaTribe but were unable to say exactly what was shared.

McMillan was arrested nearly four years later following completion of the computer analysis. He gave a narrative of how he was exposed first to child pornography by a third party in a position of responsibility when just a child himself.