Man man sentenced to 10 years in prison over possession, distribution of child pornography

Friday 22 February 2013 17.02
Mayo man sentenced to prison at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Mayo man sentenced to prison at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

A Mayo man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession and distribution of one of the largest collections of child pornography ever uncovered here.

James Clarke, 58, of Devlis Cottage, Ballyhaunis, Mayo pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of knowingly distributing child pornography at Russell View Square, Tallaght, Dublin on separate dates in August 2010.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography on August 20, 2010.

The 135,555 images and videos found on Clarke's computer included images showing severe child sex abuse involving bondage, cruelty and bestiality.

The child pornography was organised into computer folders by themes and individuals. Clarke was found to have been using an Internet site to offer the images to others.

Judge Patricia Ryan suspended two years of the term, on condition that he keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for three years on his release.

The sentence was backdated to when Clarke went into custody on in January 2012. He was also placed on the sex offenders' register.

Detective Garda Cathal Delaney said at the sentence hearing last July, that the files found on Clarke's computer drives was "the largest collection of child porn" he had ever found up to that date.

He said some of these victims on the images were infants.

Clarke was using Gigatribe, a legitimate social networking site which he compared to Facebook, to distribute these images.

The court heard that Clarke would restrict access to his files to other users who were sharing files.

Det Delaney said that warnings about sharing files and an invitation to others to "enjoy the files you use" was repeated in a number of languages.

He said that Clarke was also using an email account to speak to a woman about keeping her and her 14-year-old daughter as sex slaves.

In total Clarke's computer drives held 133,563 images and 1,992 videos showing child porn.

Garda Christopher O'Leary told Ms McGowan that Clarke has a previous conviction for sex with a minor in 1977.

The court heard that Clarke had previously suffered from depression and attempted suicide a number of times.

Defence for Mr Clarke said that a car accident in 2003 was a set-back which lead to him spending "many many hours" on the computer at home on his own.

The court was told that he began browsing adult pornography and that curiosity led him to child pornography and that this quickly got out of control.