May 2018

Former worker at youth residential unit avoids jail for possession of child abuse images

A former worker at a juvenile residential unit has been given a suspended sentence for possession of child abuse images

Philip Devereux, 51, was tracked through his email address after the Toronto Police Department passed on information to INTERPOL relating to individuals who had bought DVDs from a Canadian company involved in the distribution of indecent images of children

Devereux, of St Michan’s House, Greek Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography at his home on January 9, 2013. He has no previous convictions.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard gardaí recovered a laptop containing 24 images, a floppy disk containing six child sex stories and 13 DVDs containing images of nude or partially nude pre-pubescent boys.

Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted the quantity of images in this investigation was not too great but said it was nevertheless a serious case.

He noted that Devereux had pleaded guilty, co-operated with the gardaí and handed over his devices and passwords.

He also said Devereux had no prior record and had taken steps to address his problem.

The judge took into account a psychologist’s report, as well as Devereux’s strong work history and support from some members of his family.

Judge Nolan noted the case had been “hanging over” Devereux, as it had been delayed by a lack of resources to deal with the “avalanche” of material to be analysed at the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB).

He said the higher courts had given direction that in a case where an accused person had no criminal record and there was no distribution or other aggravating factors, then a non-custodial sentence should be considered.

Judge Nolan said in relation to Devereux he did not feel a custodial sentence was justified.

He imposed a two and a half year sentence which he suspended in full.

Gardai traced Devereux through his email address which was listed as having ordered material.

During a search carried out at Devereux’s home in January 2013, he admitted having accessed child pornography on the internet and gave gardaí an overview of his internet use, as well as his email passwords.

Gardai seized electronic media storage, a laptop and DVDs.

The items were passed to the GNCCB and analysed there in 2017.

The material fell into two categories: one involving pre-pubescent boys witnessing or involved in explicit sexual activity and another involving boys with their genital or anal area exposed.

Gda Connolly said the laptop contained 24 illegal images, 19 of which fell into category one and five which fell into category two.

The images on the 13 DVDs all fell into category two, while six child sex stories found on a floppy disk fell into category one.

Devereux was arrested by appointment in March 2017.