A former Kerry badminton champion paid women to access their children for his “deplorable” sexual gratification, a court heard on Thursday.
Timmy Duggan (35), Mountain Lodge, Annagh, Tralee, Co Kerry, originally from Moyvane, also tried to solicit young children by offering them lollipops and cash.
Duggan’s barrister, Mark Nicholas, described his actions as “absolutely despicable”.
Duggan was previously returned for trial on 47 sexual offences against children. However, the State accepted a plea to 22 offences ranging from child sexual assault, child sexual exploitation, inciting children to engage in a sexual act, possessing images of naked children and encouraging others, including the victims’ mothers, to produce “child pornography”.
The offences occurred at locations in Limerick and Kerry on dates between 2015 and 2021.
A sentencing hearing at Tralee Circuit Court heard Duggan had been working as a supermarket manager in Limerick in 2016. Gardaí were alerted to his activities after the father of two young girls discovered inappropriate messages Duggan had sent the girls via Snapchat.
Duggan voluntarily presented himself at a Garda station and admitted he had “groomed” the two girls before asking them to send him images of themselves naked via their mobile phones.
Duggan went on to divulge further offences to gardaí which the court heard were “critical” to at least two of four separate Garda investigations into his sexual crimes against children.
On foot of Duggan’s disclosures, gardaí arrested a Kerry mother who admitted taking photographs of her naked young son and daughter and then selling those images to Duggan.
The woman’s barrister told the sentencing hearing she was psychologically and financially “vulnerable” after her partner had died. The barrister said she met Duggan on a dating app and was initially “selling herself” to him for sex.
“She moved from selling herself to exploiting her children for financial gain. She will have to live with the stigma and burden of what she has done for the rest of her life,” said her counsel.
The woman, who sat through the hearing mostly with her head bowed, was returned for trial on 26 counts. But the State accepted her guilty pleas to seven counts of sexually exploiting her son and daughter to Duggan for money.
Duggan, who sat opposite the woman wearing a face mask, light blue jeans and a grey and black jumper, paid her more than €3,000 for 19 images of her naked children, the court heard. Gardaí discovered 19 individual electronic payments from his bank account to the woman’s in amounts ranging from €50 to €300.
The woman’s children are in the care of Tusla, although she is receiving supervised visits with them.
Her counsel said the two children have indicated to social workers that they want to have a relationship with their mother in the future. She is in her 30s, recently met her children and gave a “full disclosure” of what she had done, the court heard.
Her barrister asked the court not to jail his client, saying prison “would not be in the best interests of justice or society” and a custodial sentence would “undo” her efforts to rehabilitate herself.
“What we are dealing with here is a very damaged and vulnerable individual,” said counsel.
Judge Elva Duffy said a psychological report noted “concerns” that the children’s mother had shown a tendency to “minimise” her role in the offences against them. And it also stated that she had denied telling gardaí she had taken photographs of her naked children.
The woman’s barrister told the judge she had admitted taking photographs and selling them to Duggan.
The court heard Duggan also admitted throwing a handwritten note out of a window of his car at two young girls as he drove past them, which offered €50 to see their naked chests.
The girls took the note to their parents who in turn contacted gardaí and Duggan was identified driving his “distinctive blue jaguar car” on CCTV images at a location in Kerry.
Gardaí discovered several similar handwritten notes as well as lollipops in Duggan’s car when they subsequently conducted a search of the vehicle.
Duggan also pleaded guilty to paying the mother of a young girl €400 to access her young daughter for sexual pleasure. The court heard he also admitted paying another €400 to a female sex worker for access to the same girl.
The judge adjourned sentencing to next Monday.