Former GP gets suspended sentence for distributing child abuse material

Ronan Keogan (51) of College Square, Terenure, pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly distributing child pornography at an unknown location within the State on March 26th, 2017.
Former GP gets suspended sentence for distributing child abuse material

Claire Henry

A former GP has received a fully-suspended sentence of one year’s imprisonment for the possession and distribution of child pornography.

Ronan Keogan (51) of College Square, Terenure, pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly distributing child pornography at an unknown location within the State on March 26, 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing three child pornography images at an address in Templeogue, Dublin, on May 15th, 2017. The married father-of-two has no previous convictions and has not come to the attention of the gardaí since 2017.

Affairs website

Detective Garda Stephen Byrne told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that on March 27th, 2017, a woman presented to Clontarf Garda Station. She told gardaí that the previous month she joined the Ashley Madison website, where people who want to have affairs can meet.

Det Gda Byrne said she began communicating with a man who went under a pseudonym, but told her that he was a GP in Templeogue. The pair continued to communicate on a different online platform called 'Kik', and discussed her dressing up like a schoolgirl; they arranged to meet, which resulted in the two engaging in sexual activity.

The court heard that Keogan sent the woman a text saying, “This girl is 15,” followed up with three pictures. He later claimed to gardaí that the girl was 17.

Det Garda Byrne agreed with defence counsel that the three images seem to have been taken by the girl herself and that only one of the images was considered “child pornography”.

What is the lowest you would go?

The woman then asked Keogan, “What is the lowest you would go?” and he replied, “15, I think”. The woman did raise a concern over the sharing of the images, but Keogan told her, “She was ok with me showing it,” the court heard.

On the foot of this information, gardaí obtained two search warrants for Keogan’s medical centre and his home. On May 15, 2017, at 6.45 pm, gardaí executed the search warrant on the medical centre.

During the search, Keogan handed over his mobile phone and PIN and was fully cooperative with gardaí. He was asked if he had sent images of a young girl to a woman, and he replied, “Was she in a bath? She is from Cork. She is 17 years old. That’s what she told me.”

Gardaí also asked the accused if he ever gave the impression that he was into underage girls, and he said, “No, 19 or 20, in school uniforms, but I’m not into underage girls”.

The court heard that a warrant was then executed on his family home, but nothing of evidential value was found.

Child pornographic images

The court heard that Keogan had 383 folders of images of women on his phone, resulting in over 10,000 images in total from women of all ages. Of these 10,000 images, three were of a child pornographic nature.

During a garda interview, Keogan said anyone he has had sexual contact with was at or above the age of consent. He said he would not knowingly engage in sexual activity with someone not capable of giving consent.

Det Gda Byrne agreed with Lorcan Staines SC, defending, that at the time, his client was in his mid-forties and a GP who ran his own practice. He was an employer in the community, he was a very well-respected man in the community, and he was a married man and a father to two children.

The garda agreed with counsel that he had the task of trawling through all of Keogan’s devices and that there was a much different man behind the scenes compared to the “outward persona” that he gave.

Mr Staines said his client’s marriage had broken down. He said his client had a huge appetite for sexual activity and was active on many online dating websites.

He said he was also suffering from stress due to a pending inquest. He was also under the care of a doctor and taking medication for anxiety and depression.

Mr Staines said his client was involved in “thrill-seeking behaviour” and was meeting many women for sex. Counsel said his client sent and received naked photos to and from many women.

Practice closed

The court heard that the image sent to the woman on “Kik” was a selfie taken by the girl in the image with no suggestion of any violence in the image. Two other images found on his phone were also selfies taken by the girl in the image.

Mr Staines said his client's behaviours ultimately cost him everything. He has now been removed from the Medical Council, his practice has closed and he will never practice as a doctor again, all due to his own actions, counsel said.

He has also lost all forms of income. His practice was also previously vandalised.

Counsel asked the court to take into account that this was the lowest level of offending compared to what this court was used to dealing with. Counsel asked the court if an additional punishment of a custodial sentence was warranted.

After hearing evidence last month, Ms Justice Patricia Ryan adjourned the case on Wednesday for sentencing. She suspended the prison term of one year on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for one year.

A ‘no publicity’ order was previously imposed on the case by a judge at Dublin District Court. This order was lifted when the case came to the Circuit Court following queries from media organisations.

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