A 49-year-old man, with no previous convictions, has been jailed for a year, after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of distributing child pornography on different occasions in 2020.
Michael Buckley, formerly of Ravensdale Road in Mahon, Cork, but who now resides at an address outside of the county, pleaded guilty to the possession of 484 images and video files of child sex abuse at an address in Cork on December 13th, 2020.
He also pleaded guilty to seven charges of distribution of child pornography. These charges referred to different dates between June 23rd and November 30th, 2020 at unknown locations within the State.
Det Garda June O’Shea said that the distribution of the child sex abuse images was not a commercial venuture. Instead, Buckley, who is a delivery driver, sent the images to people overseas whom he befriended online. He had never met the persons he sent the images to, and the images and videos were transferred via What's App and Facebook messenger.
Det Garda O’Shea told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that of the 484 images and videos of child sexual abuse seized 334 were of children under the age of 18 involved in explicit sexual activity. She said 144 of the images and videos were of children under the age of 18 who had their genital and anal regions exposed. Six images depicted anime child characters.
Det Garda O’Shea said that the overall majority of the videos involved pre pubescent children of twelve years and under.
Judge Elva Duffy heard that in November 2020 gardaí in Anglesea Street were contacted by the Centre for Missing and Exploited Children after a user, identified as Mr Buckley, uploaded 13 videos of child pornography on Facebook.
A search warrant of the then home of Mr Buckley was obtained and a mobile device was seized and examined. Gardaí found the category one and category two images on the phone.
Mr Buckley co-operated fully with gardai on arrest and made admissions. Det Garda O’ Shea said the videos involved young children engaged in sexual activity with adults. One video involved two adults and children.
“The majority were of children under the age of twelve. Possibility between (the age) of four and eight.”
Dt Garda O’Shea said that Mr Buckley hadn’t made any “great effort” to conceal what he was doing and had used his own email address. He had sent images of child pornography to individuals overseas via Facebook messenger and What’s App.
Det Garda O’Shea said that Mr Buckley hasn’t come to garda attention since his arrest in February 2021.
Defence barrister William Bulman said that the case had attracted adverse publicity when Mr Buckley entered a guilty plea. He has no plan to return to the Mahon area following his release from prison.
Mr Bulman pleaded for leniency in the case saying that his client had “put his hand up from the start” having made full admissions to gardaí.
Judge Duffy said that the behaviour of Mr Buckley had caused "hardship for his family." She stated that it was a "very serious offence" which merited a custodial sentence.
"The aggravating factor is the number of images. Images were distributed over a network to like-minded people." Judge Duffy said that she was conscious that Mr Buckley had experienced difficulties as a child and was a person without previous convictions. She jailed him for two years with the final 12 months suspended.
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.