A man who was caught with a video of him molesting a child during a garda search of his home has been jailed for two and half years.
Gardaí secured a warrant to search the home of Anthony Wills (63) after he was linked to child pornography following a separate investigation in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
Detective Garda Anthony McCabe told Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, that a number of items were seized during the Greystones investigation, and it transpired that Wills had sent five images of child pornography to one of those phones seized.
This led to Wills' own home being searched during which a number of phones and a camcorder were seized. Wills cooperated with the search and told the gardaí that they would find old “home movies” on the camcorder.
Det Gda McCabe said gardaí recovered a 10-minute recording on the camcorder of Wills with a young child.
The detective said a number of child pornographic images were found on the phones seized during the search which included 34 images of children exposing themselves and 21 images of children witnessing or engaging in sexual activity.
He confirmed that there were also text messages found which involved “graphic sexual conversation surrounding sex with minors”.
Wills, of Virgina Heights, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of sexual assault of a male child, two charges of knowingly producing child pornography by means of a video and graphic text conversation and possession of child pornography on dates between June 2004 and October 19th, 2019. He has no previous convictions.
Det Gda McCabe agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that his client’s pleas were valuable to the State and saved the victim having to give evidence at trial.
He accepted that Wills said the video had been created eight or nine years previously and he was “deeply, deeply ashamed by his behaviour”.
Mr O’Higgins told Judge Martin Nolan said that his client is a “somewhat unfortunate person” who had this “predilection within his makeup” which meant he was “tempted to commit offences such as these”.
Counsel said his client is responsible for his “criminal actions” and acknowledges that but added that it arose because of “something that is within him”.
Mr O’Higgins said his client led “an otherwise inoffensive life” during which he provided for his family and worked hard.
“He is now disgraced and has to undergo punishment,” counsel submitted after telling the court that his client is interested in “taking up any kind of treatment that he may be offered”.
Judge Martin Nolan said it is unfortunate that the court has had to hear quite a few of such cases over the years but added that the production of the video in this case made it “a very serious matter”.
“He has a weakness but he certainly succumbed to his weakness in a very depraved way,” the judge said before he commented that it is a heavy burden on investigating gardaí to have to look at such images and videos.
He acknowledged Wills’ cooperation, pleas of guilty, lack of previous convictions, remorse, work history and the fact that he provided for his family. He said he believes Wills can rehabilitate.
Judge Nolan said because of the production of the video Wills “undoubtedly deserves a custodial sentence” before he added “it was a depraved act; it is difficult to know why he did it”.
He acknowledged that the video was not made for commercial distribution before he suspended the final 18 months of a four-year term on strict conditions including that Wills engage with the Probation Service for 18 months upon his release from custody.