Belfast Telegraph

Babysitter had 400 images of child abuse

By Michael Donnelly

An alcoholic father-of-three who downloaded images of children being sexually abused while he was babysitting has been freed on probation after having already served almost a year in jail.

Judge David McFarland told 52-year-old Aidan Mark O'Connor, who pleaded guilty to 10 specimen charges, that he and others had to "understand it is not a victimless crime" as real children had suffered.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said that the courts had already categorised the various levels of image of abuse, from the lowest level one up to level five – "pretty disgusting stuff".

In O'Connor's case he had downloaded just short of 400 images, but what was of concern to the courts was the fact 42 of the images were of level four, and three in level five. These images would normally attract an immediate prison term, but the judge said that given the circumstances, and the fact O'Connor had already spent 11 months in jail, he would impose a probation order.

Defence lawyer Kelly Doherty said that O'Connor, whose address was given as Maghaberry prison, had been babysitting, and that his judgment had been impaired through drink when he began initially looking at adult material before finding the other sites.

O'Connor was put on the Sex Offenders' Register for five years, banned from working with children for a similar period, and has to live at a designated address.

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