Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ex-cop with child porn images on laptop avoids jail

A giant ex-policeman who stashed a laptop containing hundreds of child porn images in his attic has avoided jail.

Ciaran O'Meara was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for three years, after pleading guilty to possessing 376 pictures of young girls.

The 39-year-old, who stands almost 7ft tall, worked for five years as a PSNI officer before leaving the service over a separate issue.

Yesterday a court heard he was a once competent and capable professional who suffered a spectacular fall from grace.

Downpatrick Crown Court was told O'Meara, whose address was listed as Killowen Street in east Belfast, has had to move homes a number of times because of publicity surrounding his court appearances.

The court was told O'Meara's then fiancee discovered a laptop in the roofspace of the home they shared last March.

She contacted police after finding pornographic images of young girls on the computer.

Detectives found 376 indecent images. Some 367 were described as category one – the least serious of the five categories. Another nine were category two material.

O'Meara admitted to police that he had hidden the laptop – but claimed it was because it contained adult porn.

He claimed that he never knowingly downloaded child pornography. He also told police he believed the girls were over 18.

Prosecuting lawyer Lauren Cheshire said the girls in the images were not prepubescent, but were clearly aged under 18.

She said it was "of some concern" that O'Meara appeared not to know the difference in girls aged under 18.

The court heard that, apart from the indecent images, O'Meara's laptop contained a similar amount of adult porn.

O'Meara lost his PSNI job due to problems with paperwork.

O'Meara was accompanied to court yesterday by his elderly father, but is said to have been "ostracised" by other relatives and most of his friends.

Judge David Smyth handed O'Meara a six-month prison sentence, suspended for three years.

A Sexual Offences Prevention Order bans O'Meara from accessing the internet unless the device has the capacity to retain and display the history.

He is also banned from attempting to contact any female under the age of 16 and was placed on the sex offenders' register for seven years.

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