Man pleads guilty to possession and distribution of child pornography


A MAN who had one of the largest collections of child pornography ever found by gardaí will be sentenced later after he pleaded guilty yesterday and is to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

The more than 130,000 images and videos found on James Clarke’s computer included images showing severe child sex abuse involving bondage, cruelty and bestiality. The material was organised into computer folders by themes and individuals. Clarke had been using an internet site to offer the images to others.

Clarke (58), of Devlis Cottages, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, pleaded guilty to four counts of knowingly distributing child pornography at Russell View, Russell Square, Tallaght, Dublin, on separate dates in August 2010. He also pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography at the same address on August 20th, 2010.

Det Garda Cathal Delaney told Fiona McGowan, prosecuting, the files found on Clarke’s computer drives constituted “the largest collection of child porn” he had ever found up to that date.

He said the materials included sexual activity involving children with children, children with adults and children with animals. He said some of the victims were infants.

He said Clarke was using Gigatribe, a legitimate social networking site, to distribute these images. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Clarke would restrict access to his files to other users who were sharing files.

Det Garda Delaney said warnings about sharing files and an invitation to others to “enjoy the files you use” was repeated in a number of languages. He said Clarke used an email account to contact a woman about keeping her and her 14-year-old daughter as sex slaves.

Clarke’s computer drives held a total of 133,563 images and 1,992 videos of child pornography.

Garda Christopher O’Leary told Ms McGowan that Clarke has a conviction for sex with a minor in 1977. Defence counsel Kitty Perle said Clarke claimed he was only aged about 20 at the time and the girl was 14. Ms Perle said her client had previously suffered from depression and had attempted suicide a number of times. She said Clarke overcame his depression and set up a security firm. A road incident in 2003 was another setback, and he began spending “many many hours” on the computer. She said he began browsing adult pornography, which led him to child images, and this quickly became out of control.

Judge Patricia Ryan said this was a very serious case, ordered a psychiatric report be produced for the court and remanded Clarke in custody at Arbour Hill for sentencing on October 26th.