Garda fails in anonymity bid over alleged possession of child abuse images

Tuesday 01 October 2013 22.30
Joseph O'Connor is accused of possessing 655 images of child abuse
Joseph O'Connor is accused of possessing 655 images of child abuse

A garda awaiting trial for possessing more than 650 images of child sexual abuse has lost a legal bid to remain anonymous.

Joseph O'Connor, 53, is stationed at a Dublin city centre garda station, but is currently suspended.

He is accused of the possession of 655 child abuse images at his Dublin home between 30 July and 2 August 2011.

He has denied the charges, which relate to images and movie files of child explicit sex, child exposure and computer graphic images.

It is alleged that Mr O'Connor had 92 images of child explicit sex, 136 images of child exposure, 85 movies of child explicit sex, one movie file of child exposure and 341 other computer graphic images of child porn.

Earlier in the proceedings, it was indicated that the case could be dealt with by the district court, where penalties are less severe, if he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Mr O'Connor also applied for a continuation of reporting restrictions as publication of his name would put him at risk of attack, which could affect his right to a fair trial

Legal representatives for RTÉ, the Irish Mail, Independent Newspapers and the Director of Public Prosecutions opposed his application.

Barrister John Fitzgerald for RTÉ said the constitutional prerogative that justice be administered in public was not a right of the press, but a right of the public to know what was going on.

Judge David McHugh said he was satisfied that identifying the garda posed no real risk of an unfair trial and lifted reporting restrictions.

Defence solicitor Matthew Kenny told Blanchardstown District Court his client would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

This means that the case will go forward for trial before a judge and jury at the circuit court, which on conviction, can impose lengthier sentences.

Mr O'Connor is due back in court next month for service of the book of evidence.

Earlier, legal aid was granted to Mr O'Connor after the court heard that he had a substantial mortgage, there had been a significant reduction in his circumstances and that he was struggling.