Young teenagers visiting Cork from Europe were secretly filmed in the shower and toilet of a guesthouse in Cork and some of the videos were uploaded to paedophile sites on the dark web.
A 30-year old Cork man who confessed to production and distribution of child pornography in respect of 13 victims was jailed for three years today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Because of a specific concern relating to the possibility of identifying some victims, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin agreed to make an order that the accused man could not be identified in coverage of the case.
As well as putting secret cameras into a Lynx deodorant spray can in one instance, and other hidden cameras in the bathroom at his home he also used similar covert techniques in public places.
The detective sergeant in his area who investigated the case said that videos of children using toilets were also generated at two Cork shopping centres and one at a swimming pool.
Although he has never been identified publically he lost his job as a result of an anonymous call to his employer in relation to these matters.
Judge Ó Donnabháin referred to other child pornography possession cases he had dealt with over the years saying he had encountered none that were, “as involved as this – he is going through full production, distribution on the dark web over a prolonged period.”
Defence senior counsel Elizabeth O’Connell said of the invasive images that they did not relate to sexual acts and were voyeuristic in nature. The investigating detective agreed. He added that as well as the 13 production and distribution charges, there was a 14th count related to possession of child pornography.
These images and videos included sexual acts but none of them were generated by the accused in this case.
His activities related to a period from 2011 to 2016. His identity became known to gardaí when he accessed a site on the dark web that was being monitored by the FBI.
The children in the videos from the house in Cork were all in their early teens. Children at the shopping centres and pool were younger – being aged around ten. Most were girls.
Ms O’Connell SC said it was understood that the evidence was complex but she said the investigation went on for the past five years, during which it weighed heavily on the accused, which she said was like a kind of sentence in itself.
Victim impact statements were read privately by the judge. One French victim gave evidence by video link to her home, through an interpreter. “It was a very bad shock. I was not aware what was going on until French police called me. I was shocked because I was not aware who saw it. Thinking that people could see me nude was not good for me. I felt I had to protect my life,” she said.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said the injured parties were in the unusual position of not being aware of it occurring until years later. He said it was a shock for them to learn of it afterwards.
“This is an upsetting case. People possessing child pornography have almost been a type – an isolated, lonely individual who does not associate well, possibly out of work. This defendant does not fit that category, if it be a category.
“They (videos) are on the voyeuristic side rather than completely pornographic side but it was very determined – joining the dark web, there is uploading to others involved in this type of behaviour. All of this is seriously aggravating,” the judge said.
A sentence of six years was imposed with the last three years suspended.