An Irish man who was jailed for trying to entice a child for indecent purposes was told to “go and live in a tent” by a probation officer in the United States, the Court of Appeal was told on Tuesday.
Martin Jude Wall (46) was caught in a police sting in the State of Georgia after he sent a nude selfie to an Internet chatroom user he believed was 13-year-old girl.
He later fled the US to Ireland while on probation, and has been fighting attempts to extradite him back across the Atlantic where he is wanted by the Chatham County Sheriff's office in Georgia for an alleged breach of his bail conditions.
US authorities confirmed in October 2019 that Wall, who is on the US list of registered sex offenders, was living in Crossmolina, Co Mayo. His last address listed at hearing was in Clontarf in Dublin.
Mr Justice Paul Burns ruled at the High Court last October that there was no basis to refuse Wall's surrender to US authorities and ordered his extradition.
Wall, who was remanded in custody last November, later launched an appeal against Mr Justice Burns’ decision, claiming the judge failed “to carry out any further analysis as to whether the appellant would be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment” on his return to the US.
It was further claimed that the Mr Justice Burns had also erred by failing to have regard for laws in Georgia which governed the rehabilitation of sex offenders and which were not in accordance with the Irish constitution.
At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday Shane Costelloe SC, for Wall, said the main reason his client left the US was because of Georgia’s strict sex offenders legislation. This restricts Wall from living anywhere whilst on probation that is within 300 metres of areas where children might congregate.
These areas not only included schools and parks, but also shopping malls and bus stops and had effectively made him homeless, counsel explained.
Live in a tent
Mr Costello said this restriction had also resulted in Wall losing his job and had forced to him to live in a tent in a camp alongside other sex offenders on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia.
He said his client has been the victim of violence as a result of his homelessness, and was forced to dig “his own latrine” in the earth because there were no toilet facilities at the camp.
When Wall first informed his probation officer that he faced being made homeless because the 300-metre rule was making it impossible for him to find anywhere to live, Mr Costelloe said his client was told to “go and live in a tent”.
“He ends up living in a tent in a homeless facility at the side of train tracks, where he experiences violence on a nightly basis,” counsel added.
In response, Patrick McGrath SC, for the Attorney General, said Mr Justice Burns had been entitled to reach his decision and that Wall was being returned to the US “to serve a sentence of imprisonment”.
“This is not a case where the appellant would be required to live in tent,” he said.
“The likely outcome in this case is that he would receive a period of detention.”
Judgment has been reserved.
Last October, the High Court was told that in February 2012 Wall had pleaded guilty through plea-bargain to attempting to entice a child for indecent purposes. He had sent messages and a nude photo of himself from his phone through a chat-group to what he believed was a 13-year-old girl.
The High Court heard previously that the profile to which Wall sent the nude selfie was fictitious and the creation of US detectives, who then arrested him when he travelled to meet the ‘girl’ in person.
Wall was detained for a period of not more than a year and not less than 240 days for attempting to entice a child for indecent purposes.
He had sent messages and a nude photo of himself from his phone through a chat-group to what he believed was a 13-year-old girl.
Mr Mícheál P O'Higgins SC, for the Minister for Justice, told the court that detectives created a "non-sexually suggestive" profile, but that Wall tried to initiate the meeting, said he was "very good at massage" and repeatedly asked for photos.
Wall said in one message that he preferred "younger girls, but I guess you're okay".
Mr O’Higgins said that Wall initiated "sex talk" and that he suggested meeting the girl for sex acts.
Wall told the fake profile that he had a cheating wife and that he was looking to take revenge on her with the girl, who he told was "very hot, very hot".
One message from Wall read: "Are you going to have me arrested?"
After sending the photo, Wall suggested that he and the girl should meet and detectives arrested Wall at the location.
Mr O'Higgins said that when detectives asked Wall if he had had a conversation with a girl, he "froze" with the phone still in his hand.