December 2017

Man jailed for possession of child sexual abuse images has term extended after more images found

A man serving a sentence for possession of child sexual abuse images has had his term extended by 18 months after further images and videos recovered in the investigation were analysed.

James Clarke (62) received a ten years imprisonment with the final two years suspended in 2013 after admitting possession and distribution of child pornography. He was due for release in January.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the material in the 2013 sentencing hearing was considered so serious that it had been “fast tracked” through analysis at the Garda Cyber Crime Bureau.

The material in today’s case was also retrieved during the garda investigation into Clarke but analysis of it was delayed for a number of years because of a “backlog” at the unit.

Clarke, formerly of Devlis Cottage, Ballyhaunis, Mayo, pleaded guilty to possession of 785 images of child pornography on devices at his address in Mayo in January 2012 and 1009 images and three videos on devices at a former address in Drogheda in December 2010.

The court heard the images and videos recovered during these searches fell into category one and two relating to under 17 year olds involved in or witnessing explicit sexual activity and under 17s with their genitals exposed.

Clarke also has a UK conviction for having sex with a minor during the 1970s.

The court heard Clarke has been a model prisoner during his time in custody and told gardaí during interview in 2016 that he was now disgusted at the material they found on his devices.

Lawyers for Clarke submitted that if all the material had been “fast tracked” the case would have been finalised on the previous occasion and said he should not suffer due to a systemic delay.

Judge Martin Nolan said possession of child pornography was not a victimless crime as it encouraged unscrupulous third parties to produce this material.

He noted that Clarke had pleaded guilty and co-operated with the investigation. “I think I can say he has tried to reform himself in prison,” said Judge Nolan.

Judge Nolan said the probation report was “mixed” and noted the probation officer considered there was a risk of re-offending in the future. He noted that Clarke had had his own difficulties in his past but said what he did was “unforgivable.”

Judge Nolan said he had to try and envisage what sentence would have been imposed if all the material had been dealt with together at sentencing in 2013.

He said the sentence would have been somewhat longer as extra wrong doing had to be punished.

He imposed a three and a half year sentence with the final two years suspended to run consecutive to his current term.

The judge said he was partly suspending the sentence due to the mitigating circumstances, the delay and in the hope of reform. He ordered two years probation supervision.

July 2012

Man pleads guilty to possession and distribution of child abuse images

A MAN who had one of the largest collections of child pornography ever found by gardaí will be sentenced later after he pleaded guilty yesterday and is to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

The more than 130,000 images and videos found on James Clarke’s computer included images showing severe child sex abuse involving bondage, cruelty and bestiality. The material was organised into computer folders by themes and individuals. Clarke had been using an internet site to offer the images to others.

Clarke (58), of Devlis Cottages, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, pleaded guilty to four counts of knowingly distributing child pornography at Russell View, Russell Square, Tallaght, Dublin, on separate dates in August 2010. He also pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography at the same address on August 20th, 2010.

Det Garda Cathal Delaney told Fiona McGowan, prosecuting, the files found on Clarke’s computer drives constituted “the largest collection of child porn” he had ever found up to that date.

He said the materials included sexual activity involving children with children, children with adults and children with animals. He said some of the victims were infants.

He said Clarke was using Gigatribe, a legitimate social networking site, to distribute these images. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Clarke would restrict access to his files to other users who were sharing files.

Det Garda Delaney said warnings about sharing files and an invitation to others to “enjoy the files you use” was repeated in a number of languages. He said Clarke used an email account to contact a woman about keeping her and her 14-year-old daughter as sex slaves.

Clarke’s computer drives held a total of 133,563 images and 1,992 videos of child pornography.

Garda Christopher O’Leary told Ms McGowan that Clarke has a conviction for sex with a minor in 1977. Defence counsel Kitty Perle said Clarke claimed he was only aged about 20 at the time and the girl was 14. Ms Perle said her client had previously suffered from depression and had attempted suicide a number of times. She said Clarke overcame his depression and set up a security firm. A road incident in 2003 was another setback, and he began spending “many many hours” on the computer. She said he began browsing adult pornography, which led him to child images, and this quickly became out of control.

Judge Patricia Ryan said this was a very serious case, ordered a psychiatric report be produced for the court and remanded Clarke in custody at Arbour Hill for sentencing on October 26th.

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