April 2018

A former top civil servant caught with almost 60,000 child sexual abuse images and videos walked free from court on Monday.

Brendan Phelan, 66, who is originally from a large family in Waterford pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child sexual abuse images at his home on March 26, 2013.

The 66-year old pervert of Merrion Grove, Stillorgan Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin, told gardai he had a “fair bit” of child abuse images relating to young boys when his home was raided five years ago.

He is a retired principal officer with the Department of Health and Children, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

The court heard that some of the material showed pre-pubescent boys engaged in sexual behaviour.

Handing down a three-year suspended sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said the conviction would bring shame on Phelan and his family and noted he would be on the sex offenders register.

Judge Nolan said that there was an “unfortunate delay” in bringing the case to court due to a lack of resources within the garda unit. As a result, Phelan was only charged last year.

Garda Peter Woods told prosecuting counsel Eoin Lawlor that gardaí received a tip-off from Canadian officials in relation to clients who had bought child sexual abuse images from a website under their investigation.

As a result, gardaí raided Phelan’s home in March 2013, where they seized his computer, a laptop and five external hard drives, among other equipment. A suitcase of DVDs found in Phelan’s bedroom was also seized.

When the material was eventually examined four years later, gardaí discovered 58,585 child pornography images and 1,046 movies.

The majority of these files were “naturist” and concentrated on young boys’ genitalia, Gda Woods said. Others were of a more serious nature.

Phelan readily admitted to gardaí that he had started looking at child pornography “a long time ago”.