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Man possessed ‘higher level’ child porn

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Offender ‘driven from the island …never to return’

A FORMER Clare Island resident will be sentenced this week for the possession and distribution of child pornography images and movie files that were described as being at the ‘higher level’ of seriousness.
James Woods (76) formerly of Cappanagower, The Harbour, Clare Island, but currently residing in Co Tyrone, appeared before last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court where he had previously pleaded guilty to two counts contrary to the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act.
The court heard that 586 movie files and 356 images that constituted child pornography were found on his Toshiba laptop after gardaí called to his home on Clare Island on September 21, 2016.
Detective Sergeant Paul Johnstone of the Computer Crime Unit of the Garda Fraud Bureau told Judge Rory McCabe that in terms of seriousness they were at the ‘higher level’. When he was arrested and questioned, Mr Woods admitted to downloading and distributing the child pornography images. His counsel, Mr Diarmuid Connolly explained that his client, who is married to a Clare Island native, no longer lives on the island and has been effectively ‘driven from the island … never to return’.

Supervision order
Detective Garda John Flannery explained that an investigation was launched in July 2016 when gardaí in Westport became aware of offences contrary to the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act in the area.
An IP address identified to have uploaded child pornography images on June 6, 2016 was registered to Mr Woods on Clare Island.
A search warrant was obtained and on September 21, 2016, Det Garda Flannery accompanied by Detective Sergeant Pat Lavelle called to the home of Mr Woods. They seized his laptop, which was subsequently brought to the Garda Criminal Investigation Unit in Harcourt Square, Dublin, where it was examined by Det Sgt Johnstone.
Det Garda Flannery said that on October 3, 2016, Mr Woods delivered a letter outlining his reason for viewing and uploading child pornography. When questioned by Mr Connolly, Det Sgt Johnstone accepted that Mr Woods cooperated with the gardaí and added that a number of images were inaccessible to ordinary computers. He also accepted Mr Woods did not make any monetary gain from the distribution.
Mr Connolly said his client was abused as a child and the reasoning for ‘venturing into the dark side of the internet’ was to gain some sort of understanding of the mind of an abuser.  He said that while there are better ways of doing this, this was his motivation.
Mr Connolly added his client suffered from arthritis and suffered from depression in the past. He said he had no previous convictions in any jurisdiction and that there was no question of any activity involving his children, who were grown up and living away from home. Mr Connolly said his client consented to a supervision order and intended to reside, if possible in Co Mayo after his sentence. He asked Judge McCabe to be lenient when sentencing.
Judge McCabe said this was a difficult case and that he would have to do his ‘homework’ to come to the appropriate sentence, and he remanded Mr Woods on bail to appear before the court this Thursday, February 8, for sentencing.

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