A retired man told gardaí that boredom at work and curiosity about the internet led him to produce and distribute hundreds of graphic images and videos of child abuse.
Frederick Hunt (74) was caught after an FBI investigation linked an email address involved in the trading of "child pornography" to his home in Ballinteer, Co Dublin.
In January 2012, gardaí went to his home and seized a number of mobile phones and computer devices. They also linked Hunt to illegal activity carried out on his work computer at his former place of work in the Irish Times building in Dublin city.
Using a number of email addresses, Hunt received and sent hundreds of images of young children being sexually abused and raped, Det Garda Suzanne Carlos told the court.
Gardaí identified 18 “essay-type stories” describing the sexual abuse of children. Some of these were written by Hunt, including one referring to abduction and rape of preteens, leading to charges of production of “child pornography”.
Hunt, of Ballinteer Court, Ballinteer, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to seven sample counts out of a total of 101 various charges under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998. He pleaded guilty to production, distribution and possession of the material on dates between December 2010 and January 2011.
Browsing the internet
In interview, Hunt told gardaí he was bored at work and began browsing the internet, not looking for “child pornography” but said that is where he ended up.
“I was curious about the internet. I never had any intention of harming children. I’m not a paedophile not in the sense of harming children,” he told gardaí.
Det Garda Carlos agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that it was “very difficult to reconcile the individual” behind the emails with the man before the court.
Counsel handed in a number of testimonials from Hunt’s now-adult children, including those he and his wife fostered over the last two decades.
Mr Bowman said these show his children's deep affection for him and he told the court there was no issue in relation to the safety of these children.
A testimonial from Hunt’s wife detailed how she is largely bed-ridden and that Hunt is her effective carer.
Mr Bowman said that Hunt is now a pariah in his community.
He said his client is being treated for cancer and asked for time to address these health concerns. Judge Karen O’Connor adjourned sentencing to April 28th and ordered that a Probation Services assessment be carried out.