Ex-priest jailed for three years over child pornography


A FORMER priest and convicted child abuser has been jailed for three years for possession of large amounts of child pornography.

Oliver O’Grady (66) had thousands of explicit images of children stored on computers and USB drives, some depicting victims as young as two. Gardaí also found more than six hours of child pornography videos and more than 500 pages of online discussions on the subject of child pornography.

O’Grady, Charlemont House, Dublin, was sentenced to 14 years in California for abusing children while a priest. He was deported to Ireland in 2001 after serving seven years of his sentence.

The images were discovered after O’Grady left his laptop on an Aer Lingus flight. A staff member examined the computer and alerted gardaí after coming across the files.

O’Grady pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three counts of possessing child pornography at Dublin airport on February 15th, 2010, and at Citi Hostel, Charlemont Street, and Elephant storage unit, Tallaght, on December 10th, 2010.

Det Garda Gerard Keane of the paedophile investigations unit told Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, that he found nearly 280,000 images on O’Grady’s laptops and hard drives, the majority showing children in sexual poses. He also found more than 1,000 child pornography video files which totalled more than six hours in length.

An audio file was also discovered. It started off with O’Grady discussing religious matters but after several minutes he began discussing the sexual abuse of a male child before returning to the topic of religion.

Det Garda Keane also found more than 500 pages of chat logs which showed O’Grady’s “serious fixation” on children. Most of the data had already been deleted by O’Grady but Garda computer experts were able to recover it.

On February 15th, 2010, O’Grady was returning to Dublin from Amsterdam on an Aer Lingus flight. He left his laptop on the aircraft and it was put in the lost property department by airline staff.

Aer Lingus rules state that if lost property is not claimed within three months, the staff member who found it is allowed to keep it. When a staff member claimed possession of the computer and examined its contents, they found the illegal files and alerted gardaí.

Gardaí went to the hostel where O’Grady was staying and he showed them to a locker containing several USB devices and an external hard drive. He also told them about more computer equipment in a storage facility in Tallaght. All the devices contained illegal files.

In interview, O’Grady admitted the equipment was his but answered “no comment” to all other questions.

Phillipp Rahn SC, defending, said O’Grady was “a socially isolated man”.

He was born in Limerick and emigrated to California after joining the priesthood. In 1993 he was sentenced to 14 years for four counts of lewd acts against children and was deported to Ireland on his release.

After leaving the priesthood, he moved to Amsterdam for several years before returning to Ireland on the flight where he left his laptop behind. While here, he had to move residence several times because of his notoriety.

“If people didn’t download child pornography,” Judge Martin Nolan said, “there is a good chance that those children would not be abused in the first place.”

He said O’Grady had a serious problem and prison in America had not rehabilitated him.

He took into account his early guilty plea and limited co-operation with gardaí before jailing him for three years.