Teacher who admitted having child abuse images struck off register

Cork man pleaded guilty last year to one count of possession of child pornography

Brian Fitzgerald of Meadowlands, Youghal, Co Cork, was sentenced to three years in prison to be served in the Midlands Prison, with the final 18 months suspended.  Photograph: iStock

Brian Fitzgerald of Meadowlands, Youghal, Co Cork, was sentenced to three years in prison to be served in the Midlands Prison, with the final 18 months suspended. Photograph: iStock

 

An order removing a former deputy primary school principal from the teaching register after he was jailed for possessing and distributing child pornography has been confirmed by the High Court.

The Teaching Council was of the opinion “no words” could be used to explain the appalling nature of the offences committed by Brian Fitzgerald and fully agreed with Judge Sean O’Donnabhain’s remarks when sentencing Fitzgerald that he had committed a “heinous” and not a victimless crime, J.P. McDowell, solicitor for the Council, told Mr Justice Denis McDonald.

Fitzgerald pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last year to one count of possession of child pornography on 6th May, 2017.

He also admitted four charges of distributing more than 50 images of child pornography on dates in February, March, and April 2017.

He was found to have 555 images and 1,162 videos involving children under the age of 17 engaged in sexual activity with other children or adults.

He was also found to have 529 “category two” images and 1,018 videos involving children under the age of 18 with their genitalia exposed.

After admitting the offences, Fitzgerald expressed remorse for his actions.

Fitzgerald, with an address at Links Road, Youghal, Co Cork, was sentenced to three years in prison to be served in the Midlands Prison, with the final 18 months suspended.

The 50-year-old, a registered teacher for many years prior to his conviction, was then the subject of an investigation and disciplinary hearing conducted by the Teaching Council.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Denis McDonald granted an application by solicitor JP McDowell for the Teaching Council to confirm its decision removing Fitzgerald from the register.

The sanction was “entirely appropriate” given the circumstances, the judge said.

The judge also noted the Council had imposed a requirement that Fitzgerald could not seek to apply to be restored to the register for 15 years.

Seeking the confirmation, Mr McDowell said gardaí were given information in 2017 from New Zealand’s Police force about a particular website which allowed files and videos to be shared by groups of people.

It was alleged that Fitzgerald, using the username “schoolteacher” uploaded a video containing child pornography.

That username was traced to a residential address and an IP address used by Fitzgerald.

Various devices, including computers belonging to Fitzgerald, were examined by gardaí.

A large number of files containing images and videos with child pornography, some involving very young boys and girls, including babies, were discovered.

Fitzgerald initially denied the allegations but later admitted the offences, Mr McDowell said.

Evidence from the Garda analysis showed that Fitzgerald had shared some of these files with other persons overseas, Mr McDowell said.

Arising out of the prosecution and conviction of Fitzgerald the Teaching Council commenced an investigation leading to a disciplinary committee finding he should be removed from the teaching register.

Mr McDowell said Fitzgerald had neither contested nor appealed the council’s finding against him, or the sanction imposed.