Reporting restrictions have been put on the case of a Kildare man charged with possession of child pornography.
The 37-year-old appeared before Naas District Court on Thursday, November 21.
He was sent forward for trial to the next sitting of Naas Circuit Criminal Court on December 3, charged with possessing and downloading child porn images at an address in County Kildare between November 22, 2015 and December 12, 2015.
Sgt Brian Jacob told the court that the Paedophile Unit at Manchester Police contacted local gardai about a photo sharing website in Russia.
Gardai then carried out a search at the house of the defendant and allegedly seized a number of laptops and a camera.
“Quite a number of images were seized,” said Sgt Jacob, which are “at the higher end’,’ he added.
These allegedly included images of child sex abuse and child porn, of children in the age bracket of between 3 and 12, the court heard.
The court heard the defendant’s reply after being charged by a member of An Garda Siochana was: “I have no argument with that, Shane, I don’t know what to say, I’m ashamed.”
Representing the defendant, solicitor Matt Byrne asked that reporting restrictions be put in place because there is a danger to the defendant, and that he has concern for the defendant’s family in terms of “vigilante” behaviour.
Mr Byrne said there has been difficulties in the past when details have been reported on in this locality regarding other child pornography cases.
“I’m sure his family weren’t aware of this. Having said that, the children subject to the images before this court, nobody has protected them,” said Judge Desmond Zaidan.
Sgt Brian Jacob said the DPP have instructed him to remain silent in the application.
Judge Zaidan said it was “awful” the State would not stand up and give a view in law. “It’s a question of balancing rights, I have great sympathy for his innocent children and partner but on the other hand society and the public have a right to know. Kids are vulnerable,” Judge Zaidan added.
In reply to Mr Byrne’s concerns about the safety of the defendant, Judge Zaidan said that people have no right to take the law into their own hands. Sgt Jacob said he could confirm there were a lot of unsavoury incidents last year.
Judge Zaidan said the significant factors to protect the anonymity of the victims doesn’t arise here, because the alleged victims’ images are out there for the whole world.
“The safety of the individual is a matter for the gardai, not for the court” said Judge Zaidan. “Why should I carry the State’s conscience? The safety of children in our society takes precedence over his own safety concerns.”
Judge Zaidan ruled there should be no reporting restrictions put in place.
Mr Byrne subsequently told the judge there were people waiting outside the court for the defendant, and after a member of the public jeered something while the case was being heard, Judge Zaidan said he was going to change his mind.
He said it was “unacceptable” the DPP offered no view. “I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he added.
He said he was “reluctantly” putting reporting restrictions in place.
“It’s cowardly to be hiding behind your kids,” Judge Zaidan said to the defendant.
“Those alleged innocent kids in those pictures have no voice, that’s the reality of these evil allegations.”