Judge will have regard for man’s psychiatric state

The judge sentencing a man who is charged with having thousands of images of child pornography at a house in Cork five years ago said he must have regard for the profound psychiatric illness of the accused.

Niall O’Brien, aged 43, was before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing yesterday after pleading guilty to the offence on February 9, 2010, when he was living at 103 Ardbhaile, Mayfield, Cork, when he knowingly had in his possession child pornography consisting of 229 image files and 2,145 movie files.

Defence barrister Tim O’Connor said O’Brien had a severe psychiatric disorder — schizophrenia.

Det Garda Aidan Forrest said gardaí obtained a warrant to search the house where O’Brien was living and found a laptop with the images. He admitted the downloaded images were there.

After the crime was detected and before O’Brien was charged, he left the country. “An Interpol alert was activated,” said Det Garda Forrest.

However, O’Brien returned to Ireland after periods spent in Germany, France, and Denmark.

The detective said that, in a voluntary interview with gardaí, O’Brien was co-operative. “He said that every now and then his conscience would get to him, he would wipe the computer clean but after a short while he would go back and do it again,” said Det Garda Forrest.

Many of the pornographic images were of pre-teen girls. The youngest children are 12 to 18 months old in what the detective describe as graphic images.

Generally, he described them as child-exploitative material showing an interest in young female children.

“He concedes he has some paedophilic tendencies… From my dealings with him he had a full understanding that what he was doing was wrong,” the detective said.

O’Brien had 13 previous convictions, six for public order, five for theft, and one for assault. He spent some time at the Central Mental Hospital and was also hospitalised in Denmark for a period.

Mr O’Connor said: “He has psychotic delusions. These are very significant psychiatric problems. He wants to be treated.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “I must have regard for the fact that he is a profoundly ill young man.

Prosecution barrister Pearse Sreenan said there was no evidence of the accused receiving treatment for sexual deviancy.

The judge said that whatever psychiatric treatment the defendant was getting would not be inhibited by a further remand in custody. O’Brien felt that treatment he received in Midlands prison had been beneficial.

The judge remanded him in custody until June 16 for sentencing and said he should remain at Midlands prison until that time.

In the course of the hearing yesterday, the judge was asked if he required to see the images at the centre of the case or have more detailed description of them from the garda who examined them in detail for the purpose of the case.

The judge said that he was not going to learn any more from seeing the images than from hearing what had been put before the courts in reports and oral evidence.

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