Tipperary teacher accused of possessing child porn

A Tipperary school teacher has gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court charged with having child pornography on his computer.

Thomas Keane (aged 43) of Newtown, Drangan, Thurles, pleaded not guilty to knowingly having child pornography stored on his computer at his home on April 9, 2007.

The jury were shown two images which the State allege constitute child pornography and which were allegedly found on his computer.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Judge agreed with Ms Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that Mr Keane accepted in interview, when it was suggested to him by gardaí, that one image found on his computer was in breach of the legislation.

He agreed that a male featured in this particular image appeared to be about 16 years old.

Det Sgt Judge said Mr Keane claimed that he had been sent the picture through an instant messaging service.

“Sometimes they just come to the computer and I have to save it to delete it. I should have deleted it. I just didn’t,” Mr Keane told gardaí.

He later admitted that he had saved this particular image because he thought they were “good looking guys”.

Mr Keane again admitted that a male in that particular image “looked young” but added that the majority of gay models tend to look young.

He denied ever having used the internet to either view or download child pornography.

Mr Keane did not accept that most of the images found by gardaí on his computer were of young boys in their early teens.

When asked by gardaí if he had ever thought to check the ages of the males in the images, Mr Keane replied that he generally did not have to.

Det Sgt Judge said that he had a warrant to search Mr Keane’s home on April 9, 2007 where he seized a Dell laptop, 49 CDs and DVDs and three floppy discs.

He said the man co-operated fully with the gardaí and consented to an initial interview at his home in which he confirmed his email address and informed gardaí that he was a regular visitor to a site known as “Gaydar”.

He said he had been in gay relationships for 10 years and was “generally interested in guys in their early 20s.”

Mr Keane admitted looking at teen pornography but said the men involved were over 18 years old.

He said he didn’t download pornography from the website and was usually sent images of “guys posing” through the instant messaging service MSN.

In a subsequent interview in the garda station Mr Keane said “Gaydar” was one of the few opportunities he had to meet up with members of the gay community.

He said he has met up with people he chatted to on the site on eight or nine occasions where they would chat and “sometimes” have sex. He said he would be on the site most nights.

Det Sgt Judge said Mr Keane did not agree with the gardaí that he could have rejected the images sent to him on MSN but accepted that he could have deleted them.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury.

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