Retired civil servant had nearly 60,000 child porn images, videos

Brendan Phelan (66) said he had a ‘fair bit’ of illegal material when gardaí raided home

Brendan Phelan (66) was given a suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Brendan Phelan (66) was given a suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Photograph: Collins Courts.

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A retired senior civil servant who was caught in possession of nearly 60,000 child pornography images and videos, has been given a suspended three year prison sentence.

Brendan Phelan (66), who previously worked in the Department of Health and Children, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of possessing child pornography at his home on March 26th, 2013.

Phelan, with an address in Merrion Grove, Stillorgan Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin, admitted that he had a “fair bit” of child pornography relating to young boys when his home was raided by gardaí.

Most of the images and clips were “naturist”, the court heard, but others showed pre-pubescent boys engaged in sexual behaviour.

Judge Martin Nolan noted that there was an “unfortunate delay” in bringing the case to court due to a lack of resources within the investigating garda unit. As a result, Phelan was only charged last year.

Since his home was raided in 2013, he has attended counselling and rehabilitated himself, with a report handed into court showing he is at a low risk of re-offending.

Shame

Judge Nolan said the conviction would bring shame on Phelan and his family. He also noted that Phelan would be put on the sex offenders register.

The judge took into account a number of mitigating factors, including the nature of the images - the majority of which were placed in the lowest category of seriousness by gardaí­ - his co-operation and the fact that Phelan did not produce or distribute the material elsewhere.

Garda Peter Woods told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that gardaí­ received a tip-off from Canadian officials in relation to clients who had bought child porn from a website under their investigation.

As a result, Phelan’s home was raided in March 2013 and a computer, a laptop and five external hard drives, among other equipment, were seized along with a suitcase of DVDs found in Phelan’s bedroom.

When the material was eventually examined four years later, gardaí­ discovered 58,585 child pornography images and 1,046 movies.

Phelan who has no previous convictions, admitted to gardaí that he had started looking at child pornography “a long time ago”.

Philipp Rahn BL,defending, said his client referred himself to psychological services in the aftermath of the garda raid. He said Phelan does not appear to have had any romantic or sexual relationships throughout his life.

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