Man (72) accused of having hundreds of child abuse images appears at High Court

Thomas Donaldson is wanted in Northern Ireland over 17 offences where it is alleged he made indecent images photos of children on a computer at his home
Man (72) accused of having hundreds of child abuse images appears at High Court

High Court reporters

A 72-year-old man who is wanted in Northern Ireland on multiple charges of making indecent images of children has appeared before the High Court in Dublin.

Thomas Donaldson, also known as Thomas Ryan or Tomas O Riain, was arrested at an address in Dublin on Tuesday morning by members of the Garda Extradition Unit following a warrant issued by a Northern Irish magistrates court last November.

Mr Donaldson is wanted in that jurisdiction over 17 offences where it is alleged he made indecent images photos of children on a computer at his home.

The offences contained in the warrant are alleged to have occurred on dates between July 2004 and September 2007.

In a warrant seeking his surrender it is alleged that hundreds of indecent images of children were discovered on a computer hard drive seized by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at Mr Donaldson's then-address on the Antrim Road, Belfast in September 2007.

The PSNI attended at the premises after a complaint made against Mr Donaldson, the warrant states.

'Extreme websites'

The warrant also states that after a computer and the hard drive were taken by the PSNI, Mr Donaldson's abandoned car was found near Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, close to Belfast Lough.

An empty medical container was found in the car and the accused's wife received a letter from him indicating that he was considering taking his own life.

The warrant seeking his surrender adds that sometime in 2013 Mr Donaldson was discovered to be living in Dublin.

Following an analysis of the computer taken from Mr Donaldson's home it is claimed that dozens of files, containing over 240 indecent and sexualised images of children were discovered.

It is also alleged that the computer's browser history showed the user had accessed a number of "extreme websites."

Programmes called 'Evidence Eliminator' were also found on the computer, the warrant adds.

Arising out of the investigation of the computer charges, where it is alleged he has breached the 1978 Protection of Children Act, were brought against Mr Donaldson. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

At the High Court on Tuesday, Ms Justice Tara Burns heard evidence from Detective Garda Malachy Dunne of the Garda Extradition Unit, who told the court that he arrested Mr Donaldson at an address at Botanic Avenue, Dublin 9 on Tuesday.

The garda said that when approached Mr Donaldson accepted that he was the person named in the warrant whose surrender is being sought.

He told the garda that he no longer goes under the surname Donaldson and is currently known as Thomas Ryan/Tomas O Riain.

'No comment'

The garda said that when asked if he knew what the allegations contained in the warrant were about Mr Donaldson replied, "no comment".

Gardaí were opposed to Mr Donaldson being granted bail, the court also heard.

Mr Donaldson, who was represented by solicitor and barrister in court, did not speak during the brief hearing.

His lawyers informed the court that he may make an application for bail when the matter next returns before the court, and he is seeking free legal aid.

The court heard that he had legally changed his name in the Republic by deed poll, and now goes under his mother's maiden name.

Ms Justice Burns, having been satisfied that the person before the court was the subject of the extradition request, and that Mr Donaldson was legally represented and fully appraised of his rights, remanded him in custody until January 11th.

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