By Aoife Nic Ardghail
A Dublin plumber has been jailed for 16 months for possessing over 4,000 images of child pornography at his home.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Cathal Forde (52), distributed some of these files to online contacts and produced two fictional text documents containing child pornography.
He told gardaí in interview that this written fiction was based on a real child who was younger than nine years, saying: “I suppose it was a fantasy acting out in my head”.
He added: “I would never touch a child and I never have”.
Forde, of Buttercup Park, Darndale, pleaded guilty to possession of4,168 images, including 34 movie files, depicting child porn at his home on January 11, 2013.
He also pleaded guilty to distributing child porn at his address on dates between May 19, 2011 and January 11, 2013. He further pleaded guilty to producing child pornography on December 20, 2012.
He has no previous convictions.
Garda Brian Healy revealed that he traced Forde to two email addresses that were involved in buying DVDs depicting naked children from a Canadian company.
He told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that one of the email addresses included “cathalp66” and the invoice order showed the buyer was a Cathal Forde. He said further inquiries led to gardaí obtaining a search warrant for Forde's address.
Gda Healy said during the search, Forde admitted he had child porn and handed over a computer hard drive, CDs, DVDs and all his passwords. Gardaí also seized two laptops at the premises.
Garda forensics examined the material and uncovered over 1,000 explicit images depicting children with adult males and other children. The court heard some of these children were as young as six months old.
There were almost 3,000 images showing children exposing their private parts. Gardaí also discovered two text documents that were created by Forde and sent to people with whom he was in contact.
When gardaí interviewed him in 2016, he admitted he had written the text documents labelled “Where you live you read this at your own discretion”.
Garda Healy agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that it took three years for the case to come to court due to a backlog in the relevant Garda unit.
He further agreed that Forde was very co-operative, his parents had both died and that he was a “quiet” man involved in local youth groups.
The garda confirmed that he and colleagues had called to Forde's house the previous day but he wasn't in.
Mr Gageby handed in testimonials and submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that his client could have attempted to destroy the material when he heard gardaí had called to his house.
Counsel said instead Forde acted as best he could when authorities “came knocking” and that he deeply regretted this. He asked the judge to impose the “smallest sentence” possible.
Judge Nolan said he thought the production and distribution elements were “on the modest side” but that the offending was very serious.
He noted that there was every possibility that the very young children in these images were damaged as a result.
The judge accepted that Forde had fully co-operated and that he made no attempt to destroy evidence even though he knew gardaí “were lurking”.
Judge Nolan said this demonstrated Forde had shame and has led “quite an introverted, lonely and pretty sad life from the death of his parents”.