A man who had over 180 images of child sex abuse material in his possession has walked free from court after being handed a fully suspended sentence.
Aaron Clancy (33) of Tymonville Drive, Tallaght pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography on September 15th, 2015 at his home address. He has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since.
Imposing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday, Judge James McCourt said he would suspend a two-year sentence in full due to the “unusual and exceptional” circumstances of this case.
The investigating garda told Emmet Nolan BL, prosecuting, that gardaí secured a warrant to search Clancy's home on September 15th, 2015, during which they seized items including a Samsung laptop.
Clancy confirmed it was his laptop and provided gardaí with the password for the 'AC' profile on the device. When the laptop was forensically examined, 182 images and six videos of child sex abuse material were found.
Clancy was arrested on March 9th, 2019, but provided little of evidential value during interview.
The investigating garda agreed with Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that there is no suggestion that Clancy is involved in the distribution of these materials. He also accepted that Clancy has never expressed any wish to work in contact with children.
The investigating garda also agreed with Mr Ó Lideadha that the number of images found on Clancy's computer was relatively small and did not include the most serious category of material.
He accepted that Clancy had co-operated with gardaí, and provided access to the laptop profile.
Mr Ó Lideadha said his client lost his relationship as a result of his offending. A number of testimonials from friends and family were handed into the court on Clancy's behalf. Family members were also in court to support him.
Mr Ó Lideadha said a psychological report puts his client at low risk of re-offending, and a probation report put Clancy at medium risk of re-offending. A letter of apology was also handed into the court from Clancy.
Mr Ó Lideadha said his client has a good work history and takes care of his mother. His client's older brother also died in tragic circumstances earlier this year.
Mr Ó Lideadha noted there had been a delay and the case has been “hanging over” Clancy for several years. He argued that the “unusual circumstances” of this case could justify a fully suspended sentence.
Judge McCourt said a “significant element of deterrence” must be imposed in these types of cases as the crime is “difficult to identify and isolate as it is committed in private”.
He noted the victims are the children featured in the material and said aggravating factors include the number of images and videos, which are “towards the top end in terms of gravity”. He set a headline sentence of two years and six months.
Judge McCourt took Clancy's early guilty plea, his admissions and previous good character into consideration as mitigation. He noted that the case had been “looming” over Clancy for seven years and imposed a sentence of two years.
Judge McCourt said he would suspend the two-year sentence in full due to the “unusual and exceptional” features of the case including the “particularly tragic” death of Clancy's brother and his absence of any previous convictions. He noted that Clancy would also be listed on the sex offenders’ register.
Judge McCourt suspended the sentence on strict conditions, including that Clancy place himself under the supervision of the Probation Services for three years.