Former priest convicted of child porn offence
October 15, 2003
A case involving a former priest and health promotion officer who used his credit card to download child pornography images from an American website was adjourned at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday for sentencing this morning.
The court heard that Paul McDaid (38), who pleaded guilty to the charge of having child pornographic images in his possession at College Park, Letterkenny, on May 27th, 2002, had paid $23.44 with his Visa card on July 8th, 1999.
During investigations in the US, it had emerged that a company called Landslide Production in Texas was engaged in activities relating to pornographic material on the Internet. Subsequently, credit card details of people who had accessed the site emerged and an Interpol investigation across 61 countries was launched.
As part of Operation Amethyst, gardaí went to McDaid's house with a search warrant. He readily admitted to them that he had seen child pornography on the Internet and that he had used a credit card.
In his evidence, Det Garda Sylvie Henry said a total of 3,474 images of child pornography were found between the laptop computer, CD and floppy disk seized by the gardai.
McDaid was in the priesthood from 1989 to 1996. He later became a health promotion officer with the North Western Health Board.
Among the graphic images seized were pictures of children as young as four which depicted oral sex. Others included close up of children's genitalia, sexual acts and one case of bestiality. There was also a "manufactured image" using the head of someone he knew which was pasted onto the top of an image of a teenager's naked body.
Ms Grainne McMorrow SC, defending, said McDaid was "appalled at the real consequences behind the images he had downloaded".
"He has the potential to be rehabilitated. The process of rehabilitation will be interrupted if he has a custodial sentence," she said.