February 2019

Cork journalist admits possession of child sexual abuse images

A Cork man has been given a two year suspended jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing over 2,000 images of child sexual abuse images on his home computer.

Des Breen (52) of Calderwood Road, Donnybrook, Douglas pleaded guilty to the sole charge of possessing indecent images of children at his home between December 6th, 2011 and August 3rd, 2012.

Breen, a production journalist with Examiner Publications, admitted the offence of possessing 2,120 images of child plsexual abuse which is contrary to Section 6 (1) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

Det Garda Aonghus Cotter told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that gardaí began an investigation on foot of information received from Interpol and carried out a search of Breen’s home on August 3rd, 2012.

Gardaí seized a computer and USB sticks and a subsequent examination by Garda computer experts found a total of 2,120 indecent images featuring children, he said.

The images consisted of 195 unique images comprising 19 of girls under 17 engaging in sex acts, 71 of girls under 17 exposing their genitalia and 105 of a sexual nature involving adult females and minors.

Det Garda Cotter said these 195 unique images had been replicated on the computer several times to give a total number of images of child pornography of 2,120, the subject of the charge.

He said Breen was arrested on June 20th, 2017 and brought to Togher Garda station where he denied any knowledge of the images . He later contacted gardaí voluntarily and was re-interviewed.

He admitted viewing and downloading the images and he also admitted using cleaning software on the computer, said Det Garda Cotter, adding that at no point had Breen shared or distributed the images.

Breen, who had no previous convictions, had told gardaí the reason he had denied any knowledge of the child sexual abuse images when he was arrested was because he was ashamed, said Det Garda Cotter.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it was a very serious offence but he noted that Breen had not engaged in sharing or distributing the material while he had previously been of good character with no convictions.

He had met the case openly and fairly by pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and that was a mitigating factor while he also had to take account of the fact he was at a low risk of re-offending.

“I think the appropriate sentence is one of two years but in light of his plea and his medical condition, I will suspend the sentence,” the judge said as he imposed the two year suspended term.