Man caught with child porn ‘fortunate’ to retain support of his family, judge says

Accused given 18 month suspended sentence to further incentivise rehabilitation

Purvis was present when the laptop and a USB stick were seized and he made no comment to gardaí but he was later arrested on November 5th 2018.

Purvis was present when the laptop and a USB stick were seized and he made no comment to gardaí but he was later arrested on November 5th 2018.

 

A man caught with child pornography was fortunate to have the support of his family to help him address his issues and turn his life around, a judge said when he handed the man an 18 months suspended sentence.

Stephen Purvis (47) from The Green, Tir Cluain, Midleton, Co Cork pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to possessing child pornography at his home on May 25th 2013.

Det Sgt Sean Leahy told the court that a garda unit monitoring a website where child pornography images were available traced the downloading of images to an email address which led them to Purvis

Gardaí called to Purvis’s home and seized a laptop on which they found 58 images and 59 video clips of children engaging in sexual acts with adults which were designated as the most serious Category1 form of child pornography.

Gardaí also found 88 images and four video clips of naked children exposing their genitalia which was designated as Category 2 child pornography, said Det Sgt Leahy.

Purvis was present when the laptop and a USB stick were seized and he made no comment to gardaí but he was later arrested on November 5th 2018 and he made full admissions and co-operated fully with gardaí.

Purvis told gardaí that he was addicted to child pornography but he had since appeared to address his problems by going to see a psychotherapist, Dr Nicholas Banks who deals with sex abusers, said Det Sgt Leahy.

Det Sgt Leahy said that Purvis had no previous convictions and he had not come to any garda attention since the incident and he had been monitored regarding his behaviour and there had been no problems with him.

He also confirmed that Purvis’s wife had stood by him after she found out about his addiction to child pornography and that support continued through another family crisis when his son became seriously ill.

Defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan BL said that his client was charged only with possession and not distribution of child pornography while he also had made full admissions and had come forward on a signed plea of guilty.

He also submitted that the court should take account of the fact that his client had to live for five years – through no fault of his own – with the charge hanging over him because of garda delays in examining his computer.

Treatment

He had also gone for treatment with psychotherapist, Dr Nicholas Banks and the prognosis for him was good, said Mr O’Sullivan, adding that it was perhaps an appropriate case for a suspended sentence.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said Purvis has pleaded guilty to a most serious offence – possession of Category 1 and Category 2 images and videos where the penalties ranged from non-custodial to a maximum jail term of five years.

“This is not a victimless crime. It is a victim crime and the victims are not just society – there are young children abused to produce these vile images and subjected to degrading torture, for that is what this is,” he said.

“If no one consumed these images, they would not be produced and therefore would not be available – young children are used for vile behaviour – this is not just an offence committed on a laptop,” he added.

Judge O’Callaghan said that there had to be some element of deterrence built into any sentence he would impose and he had to take account that Purvis had deliberate and intentionally downloaded the images.

Mitigating factors

However, he also had to take into account the mitigating factors that he had made full admissions and pleaded guilty at an early stage and the fact that he had no previous convictions and was, as such, a first time offender.

He also noted that Purvis had an addiction to child pornography but his psychotherapist believed that he had made good progress and had an appreciation of his wrongdoing and was at low risk of re-offending.

Judge O’Callaghan also noted Purvis had the support of his family and they were to be complimented on that as it provided him with some security for his rehabilitation. “At least you are not on your own in this matter,” he observed.

He said that he believed the appropriate sentence was one of 18 months but he would suspend it in its entirety to reflect the rehabilitation Purvis had undertaken to date and to incentivise further rehabilitation.