Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dublin Man Downloaded 3000 Child Porn Images, Avoids Prison

Irish law enforcement authorities arrested a man in 2010, who was suspected of possessing child porn content on his devices. Now, after a long forensic evaluation of the evidence, the judge sentenced him to probation.

Richard Coghlan, a 37-year-old IT expert, allegedly downloaded more than 300 images and multiple movies of child pornographic content. According to the defendant’s statement, he had recently lost his job at the time, was sleeping all day, and accessed child porn websites at night. The suspect later told Gardaí (Garda Síochána – the police force of Ireland) that he went “into a hollow”.

Detective Garda Kieran Murphy told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the Garda Computer Crime Investigation Unit had such a backlog of cases in 2010 that he didn’t receive any results until November 2015. The police officer told Dara Hayes from prosecution that the Interpol sent the Gardaí an IP address in August 2010. The IP address, which law enforcement authorities uncovered that it belonged to Coghlan, was allegedly involved in the download of child pornographic content. The Gardaí traced back the IP address, identified the 37-year-old, however, when investigators arrived at the suspect’s home, he handed over two laptops for the investigation.

It took five years, a significantly long time regarding a criminal case, for forensic analysts to examine the two laptops. However, later on, Coghlan visited the police station and admitted that law enforcement authorities will find child porn images on the two devices. The 37-year-old from Glenbrea Court, Shankill, Dublin pleaded guilty at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the possession of 325 images on his computers on September 21, 2010. The defendant has no previous convictions.

According to the court information and Coghlan’s confession, a total of 325 images were found on the man’s devices, from which 52 fell into the lowest category of seriousness, 175 were in the second lowest category and 98 fell into the second highest category. There were also a number of movie files that fell into those categories. According to Murphy, the 37-year-old had also visited a number of known child porn websites on the dark web after doing a search on the dark side of the internet for “girls of a young age, 5 yo to 12 yo – penetration”.

Judge Martin Nolan, basing his decision on a previous child pornographic case law concluding that in incidences of a low number of images and when an accused had no previous convictions, a suspended sentence should be handed down, sentenced Coghlan to two and half years on probation under strict conditions. According to the judge, the number of images found on the 37-year-old’s laptops was “not a high number” compared to other cases, where thousand and tens of thousands of child pornographic content was found on the suspects’ devices.

“It’s an odious crime to have committed and he should be ashamed of himself. I’ve no doubt that people who know him, think less of him now,” Judge Nolan said in a statement before he added that Coghlan was “an intelligent man and a man of ability.” The judge also accepted the fact, that since the 37-year-old was caught, he had not re-offended.

James McCullough, from Coghlan’s defense, agreed with Detective Garda Murphy that his client “never sought to take advantage of the delay in analyzing his computers and made admissions before the results came back.” According to the lawyer, the defendant “doesn’t seem to be a person at risk of future offending”. McCullough added that Coghlan had come to realize himself “in a real way that this is not a victimless crime and that young children are hurt”.

“He carries the shame of these activities,” the attorney said in a statement. McCullough agreed with the court’s suggestion that a psychotherapy would highly benefit his client’s mental state.

Child porn cases, especially when a darknet forum or website is involved, are harshly prosecuted by law enforcement authorities most of the time. Even when the suspect was only curious about the forbidden pornographic content, he or she mostly receives at least one or two years in prison. Coghlan could consider himself as a lucky man since he avoided jail with two and half years of probation.