A man who paid women to let him sexually abuse their children was described in court as someone whose sexual addiction was spiralling out of control when he was caught by gardaí.

Timmy Duggan, 35, of Mountain Lodge, Annagh, Tralee appeared before Tralee Circuit Criminal Court today.

He had pleaded guilty to a total of 22 sample charges of child sexual exploitation, sexual assault and the possession of child pornography involving seven children over a six-year period.

The court heard details of an incident during which Duggan drove his blue Jaguar up to where two young girls were playing outside their homes in a rural town.

It heard he threw a note at them offering to pay them €50 for a sexual act.

Prosecuting counsel for the State Tom Rice told the court that the children "had the sense to go to their parents, who reported it to the guards".

When his car was searched, similar handwritten notes were found along with lollipops.

Sentencing has been adjourned until next Monday.

A former Kerry badminton champion, and store manager, he has been in custody since October 2021 after his arrest following four separate garda investigations.

The investigations had been triggered by a complaint to gardaí from a parent who had found sexually explicit texts from Duggan on his young daughters' mobile phones.

The court heard previously that Duggan had met the women through online dating websites, on social media, a classified ads website, and had paid thousands of euros for photos and videos of children, and for their sexual exploitation.

The child victims in three of the cases, together with their siblings, have been taken into the care of the State.

None of the mothers involved can be named to protect the identities of the children.

During today's sentencing hearing, Judge Elva Duffy was told that Duggan's sexual exploitation of children began in 2015.

It only came to light in 2019 when a parent of two young girls found sexually explicit requests for photographs of them in their underwear on the girls' phones and reported it to gardaí.

Mr Rice said Duggan "was essentially grooming the girls" but thankfully no harm had come to the two physically.

He said "they are moving on quite well", as he outlined the 22 sample charges Duggan had admitted.

Mr Rice said Duggan was arrested in October 2020 and during questioning admitted to carrying out other serious offences, leading to four separate garda investigations in the Munster area.

The court was told that in one case, Duggan encouraged a mother to make and send photographs and video of her three-year-old son while engaging in extremely graphic sexually messages with her about the child.

In another case, Duggan paid a woman he was having a sexual relationship with sums of between €50 and €300, a total of €3,350, for 19 naked images of her two young daughters aged nine and six.

The mother of the nine and six-year-old girls, who was also before the court today for sentencing, told investigating gardaí she did it because "she was stuck, and wanted the money".

In a separate case, Duggan admitted paying the mother of a seven-year-old and another woman a total of €800 to use the child "for the purpose of sexual exploitation" on dates between January 2019 and September 2021.

He also pleaded guilty to paying the other woman to obtain a young girl and "for sexual purposes, invited, induced, counselled, or incited the girl to touch him".

Duggan also pleaded guilty to engaging sexual activity with the young girl’s mother with the child present, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification from the presence of a child, as well as admitted additional counts of sexually assaulting the child.

Defence Council Mark Nicholas said his client’s behaviour is the type that "destroys the fabric of life, society, and young people’s natural development".

He said Duggan’s sex addiction had been spiralling out of control from 2015 to 2019 but when arrested and questioned he cooperated fully with gardaí.

Judge Elva Duffy said she had been given a considerably amount to think about, and she adjourned sentencing in both cases until Monday 28 November.

Duggan was remanded in custody to the Midlands Prison. His co-accused was released on continuing bail.