‘Limit ways to see child porn’

A judge yesterday urged making access to child porn images more difficult.

Judge Keenan Johnson was speaking at the sentencing of a former lawyer who printed off hundreds of images of children under 12, including babies, being abused in vile sex acts.

The judge heard that father of four Gerard Gilligan, aged 61, had accessed a Croatia-based site which had received 12m hits on 145,000 IP addresses in 170 countries.

At Sligo Circuit Court, Gilligan, a former lawyer in the US, admitted possession of 646 images of child pornography at an address in Union Place, Sligo Town, where he was staying on March 1, 2009.

The images were uncovered in a bin, a white plastic bag, and in bedroom drawer.

The judge said the images in twice-married Gilligan’s crime were “despicable, repulsive, and offensive to any right-minded person”.

He added: “It is absolutely frightening to realise there was such a proliferation of child pornography available for downloading. Steps should be taken to make this stuff much more difficult to access.”

Judge Johnson said it was extremely aggravating that babies were abused in that level of depravity. He noted that Gilligan was convicted of four sexually related offences in the US and was at one time sentenced to three years for aggravated sexual assault.

Earlier, the court heard that Gilligan, who has relatives in Roscommon and Co Sligo, was registered as a sex offender for his American offences when he moved to Sligo Town in 2007.

Judge Johnson observed that, despite Gilligan engaging in therapy and although he was genuinely remorseful for his offence, there was concern that he was unable to control his urges and could reoffend. It was also inexcusable that he returned to the US during the inquiry into his Sligo offences. Gilligan was arrested last year by the US Marshall Service in New York and returned to Ireland.

Gilligan was sentenced to two years and nine months, with the final nine months suspended on condition that he abide by any instruction from the Probation Service to undergo therapy for “his sexual depravity”. As he signed papers before his exit from the court, Gilligan said: “Thank you, your honour.”


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