26 Sept 2022

Kilkenny garda's discovery of child pornography images on man’s laptop

Kilkenny Circuit Court hears about ‘cry for help’

Kilkenny Kilkenny

File pic.

Images of child porn were found on a laptop of a man who made a ‘cry for help’ to gardaí.
A suspended prison sentence was been handed down to the man who pleaded guilty to being in possession of child pornography.

Kilkenny Circuit Court heard the images would never have been discovered if the man had not walked into the local garda station in what the judge described as ‘a plea for help.’
Charged was Ian Ward, Cuillawinnia, Four Roads, Roscommon. He pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

Evidence was heard that on May 30, 2013, gardaí seized a laptop, USB key and a hard drive from Mr Ward’s home.
Two months earlier, on March 13, 2013, Garda Casey said, he was on duty in Kilkenny Garda Station when Mr Ward came in to the public office. He asked to speak to a garda because he believed he owed €200 in relation to his computer.

Mr Ward said he’d been online and a warning message popped up saying he owed €200 to the police and once he paid it he could use his computer again.
Garda Casey suggested this was a scam.
Mr Ward appeared nervous and the garda asked what he had been looking at online. He admitted he was looking at child porn.
Mr Ward was immediately cautioned.

He told gardaí it was not something he wanted to be looking at and he wanted help.
He had already brought the laptop to a shop to be repaired.
The search of his home followed, in May. Mr Ward provided gardaí with his passwords.

In interview with gardaí he said he knew the images were illegal and that he had never acted on his impulses. He had sought help from his former employer. That was helpful.
He curtailed his urges and started medication.

The laptop was sent to the computer crime investigation unit. This took some time because of a backlog of work there and it was 2017 by the time this happened.

An analysis of files on the computer found a number of images of boys and girls under the age of 17 and preteens.
Mr Ward was charged with being in possession of five images. No videos were found on the laptop.

Mr Ward again attended the garda station for interview on April 11. He never sent images elsewhere.
Judge James McCourt was told Mr Ward had no previous convictions.

Aidan Doyle BL, for Mr Ward, said it was an unusual case because his client would not have been in court if he hadn’t gone into the garda station.
Ward was cooperative with gardaí. He has lost his career because of this. There was no suggestion Mr Ward was trying to make contact with any people on the site he visited.

Mr Doyle said his client is 32 and had a relatively difficult upbringing. A pre-sentencing Probation Report said Mr Ward demonstrated insight into his offending and expressed shame and embarrassment. He has made efforts to deal with the problem and sought help.

Judge McCourt described Mr Ward’s visit to the garda station as a ‘cry for help.’
This had been hanging over Mr Ward for seven or eight years, he had some help from his employer then the gardaí and Probation Service seemed to have helped him considerably, the judge said.
Judge McCourt said the appropriate sentence was two years imprisonment to be suspended in full, provided Mr Ward engage with the Probation Service for three years.
Mr Ward was bound to the peace for five year, on his own bond of €1,000.

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