West Donegal grandfather accessed child abuse images out of boredom

West Donegal grandfather accessed child abuse images out of boredom

A 74-year-old West Donegal grandfather and former businessman claims he was bored after he went on a notorious app and downloaded vile images of children being sexually abused.

Michael Gillespie accessed the phone application known as the Kik App and accessed a number of the most serious images of child abuse.

When Gardai raided his home at 16 Braad in Kincasslagh, they found a white iPhone which they seized after being tipped off by an internet company monitoring illegal behaviour.

Gillespie appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court to be sentenced having previously pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing child pornography images on June 2, 2021, contrary to Section 6.1 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.

Detective Garda Donal Callaghan told the court that when Gillespie’s phone was examined, it contained a total of 33 images of child abuse.

These include 12 images which were deemed to be in Category 1 which is the most serious abuse and the remainder in Category 2 which is the less serious images of abuse.

When told of the images on his phone, Detective Callaghan said Gillespie put his hands up, was cooperative and did not offer any resistance or explanation.

The detective said the app was like a Canadian version of WhatsApp and is renowned for its anonymity and people can make up email addresses and use the app.

A former businessman who operated a printing business and then a successful painting and decorating business, Gillespie has no previous convictions and has not come to the attention of Gardai since.

Barrister for Gillespie, Ms Fiona Crawford, instructed by solicitor Mr Patsy Gallagher, said her client was always a very busy man and admitted he initially accessed the app out of boredom.

He initially accessed the adult porn on the site and then eventually accessed the images of child abuse.

Ms Crawford said her client initially downloaded the content, firstly adult sexual content, through boredom and curiosity and because of its perceived anonymity.

He didn’t realise there were images of children on the app and that he initially avoided them but came across them when he kept going back to the app.

Ms Emma Tyrrell, a forensic psychologist, had carried out a full report on Gillespie which found he was very cooperative, expressed his regret, displayed emotion and also got distressed.

The court was also told that while his victim awareness was limited at first, he became much more aware of how his actions effected the victims of child pornography

Ms Crawford said he has maintained his family support and is living in a small rural environment and that he appreciates now that he made a mistake.

The court was also told that Tusla has put a family plan in place and that the Probation Services have placed him at a low risk of reoffending.

Passing sentence, Judge John Aylmer said the maximum sentence for such a crime was five years in prison.

He said that while the nature of some of the images found were very serious and placed in category 1, the number of such images were very low compared to some of the other cases the court encounters.

But before mitigation he placed the case at the lower end of the scale but one which still merited a sentence of 18 months in prison.

He noted Gillespie was a retired man, who had worked all his life and had no previous convictions of any kind.

He was cooperative from the outset, seems to have developed victim awareness, is genuinely remorseful and is at the lowest category of risk for reoffending.

Judge Aylmer said he was satisfied particularly with the conclusion of the Probation Services that there was no need for supervision of the accused where he has automatically been placed on the Sex Offenders Register and will remain under the supervision of the Gardai.

As a result of all these factors, Judge Aylmer said he was sentencing Gillespie to 240 hours community service in lieu of 12 months in prison.

West Donegal grandfather accessed child abuse images out of boredom was last modified: January 26th, 2024 by Staff Writer

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