Ex-school caretaker jailed over child porn

Fri, Jan 25, 2013, 00:00

Gerard Fitzgerald (62), Grianan, Westbury, Corbally, Co Clare, had 13 images on his computer, some of which were at the “gravest level” of child pornography, Limerick District Court heard yesterday.

The married father denied knowingly having the images in his possession at his home on March 19th, 2010, contrary to section 6 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

School caretaker

Before imposing sentence, Judge Eugene O’Kelly noted that Fitzgerald had previously worked as a a part-time caretaker at St Michael’s school, Pery Square, Limerick. He has since resigned from the position.

The court was also told Fitzgerald had earned €50 a week working as a diocesan lay minister in St Michael’s Church on Pery Square and was paid €200 a month from the church for working part-time at the school.

Judge O’Kelly said it was concerning Fitzgerald should seek out such work when he had an appetite for child pornography.

In his defence Fitzgerald admitted that he had viewed images of child pornography once or twice a week but denied it was for sexual gratification. In an interview with gardaí he said he had the images in a file he called “Papist humour”.

Fitzgerald said he had no idea to view or download these images was sex abuse.

Mark Nicholas, for the defence, argued his client had not stored the images on his computer. He claimed Fitzgerald did not know that traces of what had been viewed was still stored in the computer’s history.

Software

Judge O’Kelly said the accused was portrayed as somebody who didn’t have a knowledge of computers yet he knew what the purpose of a temporary folder was and knew about forensic-type software to wipe the memory.

Before imposing sentence Judge O’Kelly noted that in interviews with gardaí, Fitzgerald said he did not print the images but admitted he had downloaded them to enlarge them.

Judge O’Kelly said there was nothing normal about viewing child pornography and imposed a five-month jail sentence. He also ordered that Fitzgerald’s name be included on the sex offenders register for five years.