Former lecturer jailed for possession of child abuse material

Thomas Gregory Fewer was an administrator on website used by people attracted to boys, court told

A former Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) lecturer has been sentenced to a year in prison for possession of child abuse material.

A former Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) lecturer has been sentenced to a year in prison for possession of child abuse material.

 

A former Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) lecturer has been sentenced to a year in prison for possession of child abuse material.

Thomas Gregory Fewer (51), of Corballymore, Dunmore East, appeared at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court charged with possession of 27 images of child pornography and one written story about sex between two 13-year-old boys.

The court heard that Fewer first came to the attention of Waterford gardaí­ in March 2011 after being identified as part of an international investigation called ‘Operation Rescue’. The inquiry was led by the UK’s National Centre for Child Protection with assistance from Europol, the US authorities and police from Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada. It identified 670 suspects – including Fewer – and 230 abused or at-risk children globally.

Fewer’s home and his office in WIT, from where he has since been dismissed, were searched as part of the inquiry and computer hard drives and other equipment were seized.

Administrator

Insp Siobhán Keating of Waterford Garda station­ said Fewer was an administrator of a now defunct website called Boilover.net, which was used by people who shared a common attraction to young boys. He used the name ‘rawspank’ to chat with other users of the site, the court heard.

Fewer was not arrested until May 2017 due to a delay in analysing the hard drives and other equipment seized.

Insp Keating said Fewer had no previous convictions and lived an “isolated and lonely existence”. The court heard Fewer was placed on administrative leave as soon as he was formally charged in 2018 and that he cooperated with the investigation by handing over passwords for email accounts and websites.

Insp Keating said the images that Fewer possessed were measured in four levels of severity between one and four , with one being the most serious end of the scale. She said 22 of the images were rated one and five were rated two.

Aggravating factors

Judge Eugene O’Kelly said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case. The fact that Fewer was an administrator on the website showed he had a deliberate involvement in this crime.

He said that he was clearly high up in the network and even though the quantity of images was not as high as in other cases, the material was of a “high level of seriousness”.

The judge reduced an initial 2½ year sentence by a year due to Fewer’s early guilty plea and cooperation with gardaí­. He also took into account an absence of previous convictions and the fact Fewer was taking part in counselling. He suspended the final six months of the sentence.