Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Hotel porter jailed for child porn offences

A hotel porter who admitted having ten of thousands of images of child pornography has been jailed for 18 months and banned from the internet and owning a computer.

Judge David Smyth QC told 35-year-old Christopher Duncan Gerard O'Neill that few cases provoked public revulsion and outrage like those involving child pornography and those responsible for the vile trade.

O’Neill was also banned from working with children and was put on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years.

However, the Antrim Crown Court judge said O'Neill was entitled to a substantial reduction in his sentence for a number of reasons including his blameless past, his guilty pleas and the help he gave police.

Prosecutor Derval McGuigan said O'Neill admitted a total of 54 charges involving over 34,000 sick pictures including films which were found at his Gortmaddy Drive home in Ballycastle. Police were tipped off he had gone to London on a day-trip to buy a child pornography DVD for £700.

Judge Smyth also told O'Neill, who agreed to serve three years’ probation, that it was “of some comfort” that the man depicted abusing the child in the DVD was now “serving a very lengthy prison sentence in England”.

Defence QC Billy McCrory said reports on O'Neill described him as a man who had “retreated into a fantasy world, where the Victorian era and pornography offered an escape from reality”.

Earlier Ms McGuigan told the court that when police raided his home they uncovered the bulk of material from three computers, although there were some movies and a ring binder with over 800 pictures.

She said that the majority of the obscene images, almost 23,000, were in Category 1, regarded as the lowest type of image.

However, Ms McGuigan said that there were also a substantial number of images — 2,799 — in Categories 4 and 5, regarded as the worst or highest level, often showing adults abusing children.

Mr McCrory, defending, said that O'Neill had not only co-operated fully with police, but had also helped them with other investigations.

The lawyer said that O'Neill recognised that he has a problem and it was clear his offending began after his interest in adult pornography had progressed to obscene images of children where he had “moved into the forbidden territory”.

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