A 41-year-old unemployed philosophy graduate who downloaded 350 child pornography images from the Internet has walked free from court, having received a three-year suspended sentence.

Adrian Savage from Millwood Terrace, Meath Road in Bray, pleaded guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to having the images which showed adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 16.

Savage was a mature student who sat his Leaving Certificate in his late 20s and then obtained a Masters degree in philosophy from Trinity College.

But the Circuit Criminal Court heard today that Savage did not know that it was illegal to download pornographic images of young girls from the Internet.

The defendant was stopped by gardaí in February 2002 after he had spent a night at an Internet cafe on Dame Street. He admitted having more explicit images at his home and in court he pleaded guilty to knowingly having possession of the images.

Savage’s counsel, Brendan Grehan, told the court that his client has been receiving treatment from the Granada Institute and a report concluded that he did not meet the diagnostic criteria of paedophilia.

The court also heard that publicity surrounding the case has resulted in personal assault and verbal abuse against Savage, and that he has been isolated by family and friends.

Judge Desmond Hogan accepted that Savage did not know his activity was illegal, and also accepted his deep remorse.

Savage, who did not pay for the images, was fined €500 and a three-year jail term was suspended on condition that he continue in therapy. He has also been placed on the sex offenders’ register.