A 46-year-old man who pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old boy and to using a mobile phone to record three unknown males in public toilet cubicles has been jailed for two years.
Garfield Ebbs formerly of Fairfield Green, Farranree, Cork City appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court today having previously admitted filming males in toilet cubicles and keeping the movies of same on his phone.
Mr Ebbs pleaded guilty to five charges of engaging in different types of offensive sexual behaviour.
He entered a guilty plea that between September 2018 and May 2019 he engaged in sexual activity with a child under 17 on the south side of Cork city. This offence is contrary to Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sex Offences) Act 2017.
Mr Ebbs also pleaded guilty to having sex with a prostitute on January 7th, 2020 at Kilbarry Industrial Estate, Dublin Hill, Cork.
He admitted he intentionally engaged on three different occasions in offensive conduct of a sexual nature, namely recording with his mobile phone males in toilet cubicles and storing the videos on his phone.
These offences happened on June 16th at a computer firm in Cork city, on June 26th, 2016, at Cork Airport on March 31th, 2018 and at Blackpool Shopping Centre on August 6th, 2019. All three charges are brought under the Criminal Law and Sexual Offences Act 2017.
Today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court Det Garda Craig Peterson said that an initial complain against Mr Ebbs was made by the mother of the 15-year-old boy with whom he engaged in sexual activity. He made contact with the youth on a social networking app.
He said that a guilty plea in the case was a source of "great relief" to the young man as it spared him the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
Det Garda Peterson told the court that Mr Ebbs had just one previous conviction dating back to 2000 when he received a suspended sentence for assault causing harm.
The court heard that Mr Ebbs was married when the offence came to light, but his relationship has now broken down and he is divorced. He lost his job and home arising out of his behaviour.
When questioned by the defence about the case, Det Garda Peterson said that the videos in bathrooms were made for the "personal gratification" of Ebbs and there was no suggestion that he ever put them on the internet.
Det Garda Peterson read out a victim impact statement written by the teenage victim in the case.
The young man stated that he was still being bullied as of result of what occurred. He said he was "ashamed and disgusted" by what had unfolded whilst thanking gardai and Support After Crime for their help.
He added that Ebbs had asked him to find other young people like him, but he had not taken him up on this request.
Prosecuting Barrister Donal O'Sullivan said that gardai had seized computer items and mobile phones from Mr Ebbs. Some of the items are being wiped to be donated to Barnardos and the Garda Cyber Crime Unit.
Highly paid tech job
Defence barrister Ray Boland said that his client had had a "highly paid tech job" which he lost when the allegations against him came to light.
"His marriage has broken down. He is divorced. He has much reduced circumstances as a result of his own behaviour. His prospects of employment are compromised."
Mr Boland said that Ebbs was "hyper sexualised" arising out of an incident that occurred in his past. He stressed that Ebbs had had a difficult upbringing and is now in a situation where he has lost his wife, house and car.
The case against Ebbs was not paid for by legal aid arising out of the fact that he had a large salary when he was first charged.
Judge Sean O'Donnabhain said that it was a "bizarre and upsetting case".
"He went out and deliberately sought out a young person. I am not convinced he thought or believed he (the victim) was over age."
The Judge said that even if the youth had been 18 there still would have been a major age discrepancy which would have served as a "social inhibitor" to contact or sexual engagement.
Judge O'Donnabhain acknowledged the premium on a guilty plea. He also cited as mitigating factors the fact that Ebbs has shown signs of genuine remorse and had "personally suffered a lot."
He jailed Ebbs for three years suspending the last year of the sentence. Mr Ebbs will be under the care of the Probation Service for two years post his release from custody. A fine of €300 was also handed down in relation to the charge of engaging with a prostitute.