A 64-year-old man from East Cork was jailed today for three years for distributing child pornography in August 2015.
Fergus Galvin pleaded guilty to a charge that on October 24, 2015, at his home at 15 Charleston Wharf, Balick Road, Midleton, he knowingly had in his possession child pornography, namely 290 files consisting of images and movies portraying child pornography.
He also admitted knowingly distributing child pornography between August 27 and 30, 2015.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan imposed a total sentence of six years, with half of it suspended.
Detective Sergeant Seán Leahy said the accused had been monitored at the time because he was already on the Sex Offenders Register.
He previously got a jail term for similar offences in the past.
The Canadian National Centre for Exploited Children observed that Fergus Galvin had accessed a particular website to upload images.
Unusually, he had accessed the site using a Gmail address which included his own name in full.
The detective said it was inevitable the accused would be caught and was actually expecting a knock on the door from gardaí.
He admitted having images in his own possession as well as the distribution.
Detective Sgt Leahy said there were 256 category 1 images found on his computer – the most serious type of images showing children engaged in or witnessing sexual activity.
He also had category two images showing children in some degree of nakedness.
These included children secretly recorded showering in public swimming pools.
It was not known where these recordings were made or by whom, but it was stressed that the defendant, in this case, was not the person who recorded them.
Det Sgt Leahy said, “He was very honest, very forthcoming and fully co-operative. He was very forthcoming in relation to his addiction difficulties with pornography. He is addicted to all kinds of pornography including child pornography. He has been extremely stressed about this matter. It has had an impact on his mental health.”
The detective said he became so concerned about the defendant’s mental health that he began calling into him just to see if he was alright.
Sinead Behan, defence barrister, said, “There was very human and helpful interaction from the gardaí.”
Judge O’Callaghan agreed and said this was not an uncommon feature of the work of An Garda Síochána.
Galvin has been totally isolated in the community.
He had been participating in a musical group in Cork but was asked to leave when his past offences became known by a person in the group.
Sinead Behan said, “He has shown remorse and victim empathy. Specialist group therapy would be beneficial.”
Judge O’Callaghan said, “The report does not address why he moves from adult to child pornography. Why does he press the child button when he views the adult pornography?
"He does so at a time he is stressed."
The report says he generates no sexual satisfaction from viewing it so why does he view it.
He moved to Midleton and was socially isolated.
Ms Behan said, “It does appear that he did it in a very open fashion with no level of sophistication using his own email particularly at a time when he was being watched by gardaí.
"It was as if he wanted to come to garda attention. It has been a horrible four years for him. There has been a real suicide risk. He could not have been more helpful to gardaí.
"Distribution is a very technical area. If one wanted to be difficult one could challenge but he has been very fair. It is a lonely place for a man who has difficulties in this regard.
“He has lost his family, he has lost his job, he has lost his social life. It is pretty bleak. It does appear that his childhood history of sexual abuse has not been dealt with.”
Judge Brian O’Callaghan said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, “He has pleaded guilty to two most serious offences. The court has to take account of what is said on his behalf and in the reports.
"This is not a victimless crime. There are children being abused for the gratification of others. Just because they are from far away places we must regard them as we would if they were passing us on Patrick Street.
“The harm caused by this kind of offence is grave and high. If people like Mr Galvin did not exist then these kind of images would also not exist. The images would not be produced, the movies would not be made.
“It appears as though there is no explanation for his actions when it comes to moving from adult to child pornography. He continues under supervision medically. After his first conviction, efforts were made to stop him viewing such material but those efforts failed.
“The court is perplexed by the openness of his offending.
Let’s be blunt about it, he made things easy for An Garda Síochaána. He does this in an open – easy to track – manner.
“It is regrettable that he has suffered. He has lost his family. He has become isolated. He seems to have an addiction he can’t refrain from accessing.”
In conclusion, the judge said, “I wish you the best, Mr Galvin, and I hope you can solve your problems.”