A former Dublin City Council worker who was forced from his home after the appearance of a newspaper report on his arrest for child-pornography possession has been given a suspended sentence.
Noel Gibson (aged 57), a father of three, was arrested after gardaí received a tip-off from Austrian police about a computer server in Holland which recorded the details of people who downloaded files from a certain child pornography website.
Gibson of Pineview Avenue, Old Bawn, Tallaght pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing 423 images and 11 videos at his home on February 16, 2007.
Detective Sergeant Michael Lynch told prosecuting counsel, Ms Mary Rose Gearty BL, that the files featured naked children as young as six in various situations, including penetrative sex.
Gardaí used the information from the Austrian police to obtain Gibson's phone number by which they obtained his address. They called to his home at 6.30 am and seized computer equipment, a camera and 44 compact discs, some of which were found in the glove compartment of his mobile home.
Four of the discs were found to contain illegal images and an analysis of the computer revealed Gibson had searched the internet for the term "kiddie porn". He had also looked up the definition of child pornography and the legislation related to it.
Det. Sgt Lynch said Gibson was highly co-operative and took full responsibility for the files.
Gibson told gardaí he was "curious" and only visited one or two sites. He said he never went looking for the images and only stumbled across them when looking at other pornography.
Det. Sgt Lynch said this was despite gardai finding records of 130 child pornography pages and just 18 adult ones. Gibson said his son had once come across one of the images on the computer and then confronted his father and "ate the head off him".
Detective Garda Colm Delaney prepared a sample of the images for Judge Patrick McCarten who described them as "vile" and told Gibson he was as guilty as the person who took the photographs.
"They are appalling. They show very serious exploitation of vulnerable children. Him being in his home far away from the children in no way mitigates the situation. If people like Mr Gibson didn't exist then the market would not be there."
Defence counsel, Mr Philipp Rahn BL, said Gibson and his wife were forced to move out of their home after stones were thrown through the windows. The incident occurred after a report of his initial district court appearance appeared in the Tallaght Echo newspaper.
Judge McCarten commented: "He is someone who has been well and properly exposed in his community but he should never have had his home attacked and I intend to take that into account when sentencing."
Mr Rahn said during the District court hearing Gibson was "accosted" by a reporter from the Tallaght Echo who began taking photographs of him on court property. These images were confiscated by court staff.
Mr Rahn said his client had retired from his job as a electrician for Dublin City Council for health reasons. He said his wife was in very poor health and she depended on him for constant care.
He said Gibson was attending therapy in The Granada Institute and a report showed he was at a "low risk of reoffending".
Judge McCarten imposed a two years sentence which he suspended for two years on condition he continue his therapy. His name has also been added to the sex offenders register.
"What you did sir, was very very wrong. But you have many positive things on your side which stand to you today. Take this opportunity and put the matter behind you. I wish you well."