A man who engaged in an online sexual conversation with a child before he was caught with naked images of the boy on his laptop has been jailed for 20 months.
Amit Chawla (40) was found guilty by a jury of two counts of possessing child pornography at his home in Rutland Place, Dublin on dates in August 2016 following a Circuit Criminal Court trial in June this year.
Chawla does not accept the verdict of the jury and plans to appeal, his sentence hearing was told on Friday.
The court heard that in June 2015, the mother of the boy, who was then aged 11, checked his laptop after she noticed a change in his behaviour. She came across a Skype conversation in which her son had sent two naked photos of himself to the other person.
The woman brought the laptop to gardaí and an investigation got underway. The Skype conversation was traced to Chawla following forensic analysis and and his home was searched. He gave gardaí the password to his laptop and when this was analysed, the same two images of the child were found on it.
During the Skype conversation, the boy told Chawla he was 13. Chawla replied that he was 34 (his real age). When the child sent him the photos, Chawla responded with “sweet” and “nice”. “I'd like to have you in bed,” he wrote to the child.
He was arrested and charged in 2018, when he denied possessing the images. He has no previous convictions.
Sentencing him on Friday, Judge Karen O'Connor said the manner in which Chawla came into possession of the images was a significant aggravating factor. “There was a disturbing sexual nature to the conversation,” she said. “Adults must protect children. Children must be protected from strangers engaging in this kind of activity.”
She handed down a two-year sentence and suspended the final four months on a number of conditions.
The court heard Chawla has been married for 10 years. He worked in his father's business, but is now on disability benefit due to medical issues.
Judge O'Connor took into account a number of mitigating factors, including the relatively small number of images and the fact that Chawla did not upload them to the Internet or seek to share them. - Reuters