A 62-year-old man was caught with thousands of images of child sexual abuse at his business address in Cork city when gardaí were taking security measures around the English Market in June 2018 ahead of a visit by members of the British royal family.
Now he has been sentenced to a prison term of two years and nine months with one year of that suspended by Judge Dara Hayes at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Detective Garda Neil Walsh said gardaí were securing the area around the English Market ahead of the visit of the then Prince of Wales, and became concerned about computer activity at the business address of William Sweetnam at Grand Parade, Cork.
Initially, the accused denied all charges and said the material found on his equipment must have belonged to a previous business associate from the Czech Republic. However, Det. Garda Walsh said that in the particular memory area of the equipment where the child abuse imagery was found, gardaí also located documents in the defendant’s own name.
Earlier this year Sweetnam opted to go on trial by judge and jury. But on the second day of the trial, he changed his plea to guilty.
The first count stated that on June 11, 2018, at his premises on Grand Parade, Cork, he had child pornography in the form of 3,819 images and 120 movie files. Two devices were found at the Grand Parade premises that were of particular interest to gardaí – a laptop and an external hard drive.
Approximately 1,000 images were found of children in sexual activity or witnessing it, while approximately 2,900 images were of children exposing the genital or anal areas. Of the videos, 100 showed children in sexual activity or witnessing it.
Judge Hayes said child abuse imagery involved the gross sexual exploitation and degradation of children. He said that in the material in the present case the children were aged from 14 down to six months.
An aggravating factor was the fact that Sweetnam had what the judge called “a highly relevant previous conviction” for an earlier offence of possessing child pornography. Judge Hayes took into consideration the counselling and steps toward rehabilitation taken by the defendant.