The accused man was arrested at 9am last Tuesday, and brought before Limerick District Court last night.
He is charged with sexually exploiting a child, contrary to section 3 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act. The offence is alleged to have happened on a date between January 3, 2015, and February 10, this year.
During a lengthy bail application, the man broke down and informed the court his family was unaware he had been arrested.
Garda Fiona O’Connell alleged that, within a week of befriending the boy on social media applications Tinder and Snapchat, the man had sent the boy “provocative images and videos of himself masturbating”.
She further alleged that, following a Garda forensic examination of the man’s phone, it was found to contain “disturbing videos involving another young male, whose identify was unknown”. Garda O’Connell said she believed this video had been downloaded from the internet.
She also alleged gardaí found 56 naked images “of the boy at the centre of this investigation”, on a second phone belonging to the accused.
Three phones belonging to the man and a mobile phone belonging to the boy are the subject of an ongoing forensic examination.
Garda O’Connell said it was her belief that the boy was “coerced into sending images of himself to the accused”.
She alleged the man had “booked a hotel room” for last Monday and also on February 13 this year to meet the boy for sex, but these meetings did not take place.
Garda O’Connell alleged that, last Monday, the man travelled to the county where the boy resides, but he was “intercepted by gardaí” at a checkpoint. The checkpoint was put in place after gardaí received a complaint from the boy’s mother, the court heard.
Objecting to bail, Garda O’Connell said her “main concern” was that she believed the man would “interfere and continue to contact the injured party through social media”.
Seeking bail, the man gave a sworn oath he would not contact the injured party. “I won’t, 100%... I’m not going to risk it getting any worse than it already is,” he told judge Marian O’Leary, presiding.
“This is an embarrassing situation,” he added.
The man also undertook to stay away from social media applications Tinder and Snapchat and have his mobile phone monitored by gardaí.
The court prohibited the media from reporting the identities of the parties involved, as well as locations heard in evidence.
Further charges are expected to be brought against the man at a later date, gardaí told the court.
Judge O’Leary said she was “leaning” towards granting bail, but reserved her position on the application and remanded the accused in custody to appear again this morning.