A man who had thousands of images and videos of child abuse, some of which showed children being tortured, will be sentenced in October.
Marcin Wojciechowicz (34) was caught after a co-worker gave him a lift home and he left a USB memory key containing some of the material in the man's van.
Gardaí were alerted and during the course of the investigation found over 16,000 images and 300 videos classified as child pornography on his USB stick, mobile phone and laptop.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard 700 of the images on the laptop were at the highest level possible depicting sadism and cruelty to young children, including toddlers and infants. There were also images of children being "water boarded" and raped.
Wojciechowicz told gardaí after his arrest that he was trying to catch paedophiles and must have downloaded the images by accident.
Wojciechowicz, with a former address at a hostel on Gardiner Street, Dublin has been in custody since his arrest. He pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography on a mobile phone on June 2nd, 2015.
Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the case to October 5th next to allow her consider the case and give gardaí time to ascertain over what time period the images had been collected.
Defence counsel, Padraig Dwyer SC, said Wojciechowicz accepted responsibility but still maintained he had a long term plan to hand it over to the authorities. He was prepared to leave the country as part of any period of suspended sentence.
He said Wojciechowicz had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the past and with the proper psychiatric care may not repeat his offences.
Mr Dwyer said there was no evidence Wojciechowicz had the material for commercial or distribution purposes. He has no previous convictions.
Counsel said it was disturbing to hear evidence of the more revolting images but he asked the court to take into account that a lot of the material was categorised in the lower categories of the scale.
He said the case would have been very disturbing for a jury and court personnel if it had gone to trial. He said the guilty plea had saved not only time and expense but also spared viewing material of a very disturbing nature.
Prior to the case commencing, prosecutor Elva Duffy BL warned those in court that the evidence would be sensitive and distressing.
Garda Brian Cleary told Ms Duffy that a co-worker of Wojciechowicz had found a USB memory key in the back of his van after giving him a lift home. His wife, who came upon the USB stick in the house, viewed an image on it and the couple immediately brought it to gardaí.
A CV belonging to Wojciechowicz was also found on the stick and he was arrested. A number of searches were carried out and his mobile phone and laptop recovered and analysed.
Gardaí had difficulty accessing Wojciechowicz’s laptop and he did not give them a password or information which would allow them overcome the encryption.
Wojciechowicz initially denied having downloaded the images and at one stage said the material had been planted by gardaí. He later accepted he had looked at the images and said he had been trying to catch paedophiles and must have downloaded the images by accident.
He said he had better skills than the police and was some form of investigator trying to catch child abusers.
Garda Cleary said Wojciechowicz worked as a labourer and seemed to "site hop." He said he had worked in Belgium, Germany, Holland and the UK but did not remain in one place for a long time. He has been in Ireland for 18 months.
He said the encryption gardaí encountered was of a high level and Wojciechowicz told gardaí he was “self-educated”. He said it appeared that Wojciechowicz was talking to underage children in chat rooms and there was evidence of chat rooms where “paedophile matters” were discussed.
Garda Cleary agreed with defence counsel, Padraig Dwyer SC, that the guilty plea was of great assistance and avoided the need for a trial which would have been distressing for a jury.
“Anyone who would have to view those images would be very distressed” said Garda Cleary.
Garda Ken Sullivan, of the Computer Crime Investigation Unit, told Ms Duffy that he had examined and assessed the material on the mobile phone, USB stick and laptop.
He said that the images and videos were categorised on a scale from one to five. The low end of the scale, level one, involved “erotic posing” and the highest, level five, involved sadism or cruelty.
He said that on the USB stick there were 625 images and 121 videos of child pornography.
Garda Sullivan said that on the mobile phone there were 4,736 images and 27 videos found of sexual activity and children exposing themselves.
He said that in relation to the laptop there were 10,837 images and 156 videos of child pornography found. He said that 700 of these files on the laptop were level five and were at the highest level that he had ever viewed during his work with the unit.
Garda Sullivan told Mr Dwyer that he did not know over what period the images were collected but he could ascertain this if needed
Mr Dwyer said Wojciechowicz has a long history of working in the construction industry. He left Poland and went initially to the UK where he worked as a warehouse operative before returning home and leaving again to work abroad with various agencies for short periods of time.
He said Wojciechowicz had been committed to hospital in 2010 in Turin where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He had also received psychiatric treatment in Poland.