Defrocked priest Oliver O'Grady was sentenced to 22 months in prison at Waterford Circuit Court on Tuesday after being found guilty by a jury earlier this month of possessing child abuse imagery.
O’Grady had been accused of using a computer that had been loaned to him by a housemate at 21 Otteran Place, South Parade, Waterford, to download a video showing an underage girl being abused.
O’Grady denied the charge, but admitted that the computer was used to search for images and videos of “young boys in underwear”. O’Grady’s main defence had been that he shared the house with many other people and the computer was used in a “common area”. He denied ever downloading or seeing the video.
The prosecution highlighted O’Grady’s activities on the computer to link him to the video. His email account, which was verified with his phone number, had been used to download the video.
He had been searching for items of a religious nature, such as the lyrics to O Holy Night and the Catholic Magnificat at the same time as he was searching for images of “young boys in underwear”.
It was the prosecution’s case that nobody else would have been using the computer for this purpose and on October 19th, a jury took two hours to agree with that assertion.
Prior to his sentencing, Oliver O’Grady asked to address the court and reaffirmed that he had “no knowledge of the existence of the video until he was arrested”.
“I never saw the video, until I viewed it on the two occasions that it was shown in court,” O’Grady said. “The video is classified by law as a pornographic video because of the person’s behaviour in the video.
“I believe the reality of the situation is far worse. What we saw was a person who has lost her right to be considered human and is instead reduced to an object that can now be used and exploited by the will of those who control her,” he said.
“The trial concluded with the jury rendering a guilty verdict. As much as I would have preferred a different verdict, it was not to be. I accept the verdict,” O’Grady told the court.
Delivering the sentence, Judge Eugene O’Kelly said that there was little in the way of any mitigation for O’Grady.
“If Mr O’Grady was a person with no previous relevant convictions, the possession of a single video of child pornography would place the offence in the very lowest range of gravity,” Judge O’Kelly said. “However, in this case, because of the particular nature of his prior convictions and the exploitation of the generosity of those who innocently loaned him the computer, and in addition to the harm done to the unknown and unidentified child victim, I place this offending between the start and the middle of the mid-range on the scale of gravity, which has a headline sentence of two years’ imprisonment.”