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Child-porn distributor given an extra 18 months

News


Fiona Ferguson

A man serving a lengthy sentence for the possession and distribution of child pornography has had his term extended by 18 months after further images and videos recovered in the investigation were analysed.
In 2013, James Clarke (62) was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, with the final two years suspended, after he admitted possessing and distributing child pornography. He was due for release in January.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last week heard that the material in the 2013 sentencing hearing was considered so serious that it had been fast-tracked through analysis at the Garda Cyber Crime Bureau.

‘Backlog’
The material in last Thursday’s case was also retrieved during the Garda investigation into Clarke, but its analysis was delayed for a number of years because of a ‘backlog’ at the unit.
Clarke, formerly of Devlis Cottage, Ballyhaunis, Mayo, pleaded guilty to possession of 785 images of child pornography on devices at his address in Mayo in January 2012 and 1,009 images and three videos on devices at a former address in Drogheda in December 2010.
The court heard the images and videos recovered during these searches fell into category one and two, relating to under 17 year olds involved in or witnessing explicit sexual activity and under 17s with their genitals exposed.
Clarke also has a UK conviction for having sex with a minor during the 1970s.

‘Disgusted’
The court heard that Clarke has been ‘a model prisoner’ during his time in custody and that he told gardaí during an interview in 2016 that he was now disgusted by the material they found on his devices.
Lawyers for Clarke submitted that if all the material had been fast-tracked, the case would have been finalised on the previous occasion, and they argued that he should not suffer due to a systemic delay.
Judge Martin Nolan said possession of child pornography was not a victimless crime as it encouraged unscrupulous third parties to produce this material.
He noted that Clarke had pleaded guilty and co-operated with the investigation. “I think I can say he has tried to reform himself in prison,” said Judge Nolan.

Re-offence risk
Judge Nolan also noted that the probation report was ‘mixed’, however, saying that the probation officer believes there is a risk of re-offending in the future.
Judge Nolan said he had to try and envisage what sentence would have been imposed if all the material had been dealt with together at sentencing in 2013. He said the sentence would have been somewhat longer, as extra wrongdoing had to be punished.
He imposed a three-and-a-half-year sentence, with the final two years suspended, to run consecutive to his current term.
The judge said he was partly suspending the sentence due to the mitigating circumstances, the delay and the hope of reform. He ordered two years’ probation supervision.

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