Sentencing of ex-Garda adjourned in child trafficking case

Sentence on a former Garda sergeant for child trafficking has been adjourned due to his hospitalisation following a suicide attempt last Friday.

Kieran O'Halloran (aged 48) pleaded guilty last March at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that on a date in October 2005 he incited a named woman "to organise or knowingly facilitate the use of a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation".

He had been remanded for sentence but Judge Katherine Delahunt adjourned his case to a date in 2009 when told he was in hospital.

O'Halloran was jailed for three years in February 2003 by Judge Frank O'Donnell at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for paying "a prostitute IR£100 to find him a seven to 10-year old girl for sex" on December 6, 2001, and to the possession of child pornography on December 8, 2001 at his then home at Five Oaks, Drogheda.

The separated father-of-one, with addresses at Liffey Court, Clane, County Kildare and at Westminister Park, Foxrock was charged under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

Detective Inspector John McMahon told the 2003 hearing that the former garda sergeant, who held a command post for 12 months in Croatia while working for the United Nations, picked up a 21-year-old woman on Blackhall Place in Dublin on December 6, 2001 and when they went to her flat he said he was looking for a young girl.

He told her he did not see it as sexual abuse because he was willing to pay for the service. The prostitute took his mobile phone number and said she would meet him on a later occasion in the south of the city, but instead she contacted the gardaí.

Det Insp McMahon said that when she rang the Bridewell Station and gave them O'Halloran's mobile number, the garda on duty thought she had been given a contact number for the girl because of a bad line.

O'Halloran answered when the phone was dialled and the call was quickly terminated. Gardaí were able to track him down because of phone records, the registration of his car, which the woman took down, and CCTV footage of him withdrawing cash at an ATM on James' St to pay for the child.

Det Insp McMahon said the woman made a detailed statement of her dealings with O'Halloran and outlined that he paid her IR£100 even though her fee was only IR£80 punt and they did not engage in any sexual activity.

When the gardaí called to his Drogheda home he said he had been expecting them but asked that the search be delayed so his family could leave.

Gardaí seized two computers, some credit card documentation, and his mobile phone which he had thrown in his wheelie bin at the back of his house.

Det Insp McMahon said pornographic material was recovered from one of the computers, showing a number of pictures of children engaged in naked poses and sexual activity.

However, a newer model had a number of images deleted but the gardaí were able to access various child pornography websites that had previously been visited by O'Halloran.

O'Halloran took full responsibility for all materials found on the computers but denied throughout that he had solicited the woman to find him a young child.

Det Insp McMahon agreed at the 2003 hearing that O'Halloran had been a very capable and competent member of An Garda Síochána and very well respected. He was suspended from the force after his arrest and resigned before his guilty pleas in November 2002.

Judge O'Donnell praised the woman in bringing the matter to garda attention. He said she had "put her credibility on trial because of her circumstances" but had done the right thing in contacting the gardaí.

"The court owes this lady a debt. I appreciate that it could not have been easy for her to do it. She saw him as a potential threat to young females and did what she thought was proper. The court commends her for that."

Judge O'Donnell imposed 20 years post-release supervision from the day he was released from prison and suspended the last year of the sentence because O'Halloran himself had "suffered greatly".

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