A pensioner has been jailed for nine months at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after he admitted possessing over 2,000 images and 600 videos of child abuse material.
Terry Jackson (72), of Cedar Park, Leixlip, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing a total of 2,887 images and 669 videos of child pornography on a hard drive at his home on April 17th, 2018.
Passing sentence on Wednesday, Judge Orla Crowe said the aggravating factors included the amount of images and the ages of the children involved, ranging from five to 15 years old.
Judge Crowe said the mitigating aspects of the case included Jackson’s admissions to gardaí, his lack of previous relevant convictions and his age and health issues.
The judge set a headline sentence of two and a half years, but reduced this to 18 months with the final nine months suspended. Jackson was also ordered to comply with Probation Services for a period of two years on his release.
At an earlier hearing, the court heard that Jackson told Forensic Psychological Services (FPS) that his intention in collecting the child abuse material was to stop others from distributing it.
The court heard Jackson also told FPS officials that he had been appalled and enraged when he discovered how much child abuse material was on the internet and was “willing to go to prison” if it would stop other people from distributing this material.
Philip Rahn SC, defending Jackson, submitted a report by FPS to the court, which put the accused at low risk of reoffending.
Jackson told gardaí on arrest that he had been the victim of sexual abuse as a young boy when he was abducted from outside his home, an incident which had a long-term impact on him, the court heard.
Detective Garda Serena Kelly told Kate Egan BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were alerted to the images in September 2017 on a free app called Gigatribe, used for sharing content.
“No money was exchanged. The material was not purchased or sold but shared in a peer-to-peer environment,” said Gda Kelly.
Gardaí traced the user name to a particular address and got a search warrant. However, when they went to execute the warrant, they discovered that the property was owned by Jackson but leased to a tenant who was not the subject of the investigation.
A total of three search warrants were issued and Jackson’s home was eventually searched on April 17, 2018, when he was present at the scene.
Jackson took responsibility for the hard drive which was seized by gardaí and told them that they would find a lot of child pornography on it.
He attended Blanchardstown Garda Station by arrangement in February 2020 and was arrested.
Jackson has one previous conviction for a road traffic offence dating back to 2008.
Detective Sergeant Michael Fitzgerald of the Garda National Crime Bureau told the court that the videos ranged in length from one minute to 35 minutes long, and that in total there were 13 hours of footage.
The detective said that of the material seized, over 1,300 images and 614 movies were in Category 1, depicting sexual activity involving children.
A further 1,400 images and 55 films were listed as in Category 2, involving the genital or anal display of children.
119 images were listed as being in Category 3, involving computer-generated or animated cartoons of sexual activity of children.
Mr Rahn submitted a medical report detailing Jackson’s health difficulties which include arterial fibrillation and chronic Crohn’s disease.
He also handed in a letter from Jackson’s partner, saying she had known him for almost 40 years.
The woman said Jackson had been with her “through thick and thin,” particularly when her marriage broke up, and had always cared for her and her children and treated them with respect.
Jackson himself wrote a letter to court speaking of his long and steady relationship, adding that himself and his partner were “happy in their old age together”.
Gda Kelly agreed with counsel for the defence that none of the child abuse material was classed as in the extreme category, and that this was Jackson’s first and only offence of this kind.
Mr Rahn pointed out that Jackson had not come to garda attention in the five years since this offence was detected and that he had already been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register, which he said amounted to a form of punishment “in and of itself”.