Girl with images, videos and diary saw children as sex objects, court told

Gardaí commenced an investigation into her online activities four years ago with assistance from US and Canadian authorities
Girl with images, videos and diary saw children as sex objects, court told

Tom Tuite

A 13-year-old girl had dozens of child sexual abuse videos and images in a computer file and wrote a diary about her interest in rape, torture and murder of infants and children, a court has heard.

Gardaí commenced an investigation into her online activities four years ago with assistance from US and Canadian authorities.

The girl, now aged 17, appeared at the Dublin Children's Court for a preliminary hearing to decide her trial venue. She has been charged under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act.

It is alleged she had 78 images and 72 videos that contained visual representations of a child engaged in explicit sexual activities.

The material was allegedly in a Dropbox computer account in 2017.

She is accused of having had a handwritten diary with drawings and text defined as child pornography.

The third charge is possessing the material in late 2016 in a Dropbox account for sharing.

She cannot be identified because of her age.

The Director of Public Prosecutions recommended she face “trial on indictment” in the Circuit Court, which can impose lengthier sentences.

Harrowing background

Defence solicitor Eoghan O'Sullivan cited her age, “harrowing background”, and the four years it took to charge the teen. He pleaded for her case to be kept in the Children's Court.

However, Judge Treasa Kelly held that it was too serious.

The girl sat silently throughout the hearing and was not required to give evidence.

Detective Garda Cathal Connolly gave an outline of the prosecution case.

He said that the girl came to a Dublin garda station with her mother when she was aged 13. She freely offered information about her Dropbox computer file-sharing account, he said.

She allegedly used it to store and share child pornography with another youth in Munster who later abused another child sexually.

The material featured children, from infants to teenagers, vaginally and orally raped, sexually assaulted and suffering verbal and physical abuse by adult males.

Diary

Gardaí searched her home and recovered the handwritten diary, the court was told.

Detective Garda Connolly described it as a journal with drawings and text about her interests in the rape, torturing and killing of prepubescent girls and infants.

It allegedly featured her commentary and drawings about child mutilation and dismemberment. Gardaí interviewed her when she was aged 14.

She allegedly admitted to sharing it “with like-minded people online” and having child abuse ideation. The garda alleged the girl saw children “as sexual objects that should be harmed and murdered”.

US and Canadian authorities obtained the evidence from Dropbox, Facebook and Kik, a messenger app, the court heard.

The Garda computer crime section, which has a backlog, then assessed and classified the material.

Questioned by her solicitor, the detective agreed there was a delay in charging the teenager. However, he explained she had to have specialist interviews.

Gardaí also interacted with therapeutic services, social workers and Tusla and had to analyse the material.

Pleading with the judge to accept jurisdiction, Mr O’Sullivan furnished the court with a welfare report with “harrowing background details” and an account of her time in care. He also asked the judge to note the evidence of her cooperation.

However, Judge Kelly refused jurisdiction and adjourned the case for a book of evidence to be prepared.

The girl, accompanied to court by a social worker, was remanded on continuing bail to appear again in November.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.

In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.

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