By Isabel Hayes
A former RTÉ producer who sexually abused and exploited young children, including flying to the Philippines for the purpose of child sexual abuse, has been jailed for 10 years.
Kieran Creaven engaged in behaviour that was “degrading in the extreme” for his vulnerable child victims, who were in some cases being abused for commercial gain, Judge Melanie Greally said as she handed down sentence last Friday.
One child in particular, who was sexually abused by Creaven in the Philippines, has never been found and her fate remains unknown, the judge said.
“As she has not been rescued, it is difficult to conceive she has any hope of a normal childhood, much less a bright future,” she said.
The 59-year-old then sports producer was arrested in Leeds in 2017 as a result of a sting operation by a vigilante group when he tried to meet a child for sexual activity. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in the UK.
Gardaí charged him last year with a number of offences relating to child exploitation, sexual assault, and possession of child abuse material.
Creaven, of Adelaide Street, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including four counts of child exploitation, two counts of sexually assaulting a child and four counts of child pornography. The offences took place in Ireland, the UK and the Philippines in 2014 and 2017.
He has been in custody since October last year.
Judge Melanie Greally said Creaven’s offending involved “different victims, different types of offences and different degrees of depravity”.
She noted Creaven travelled to the Philippines in order to engage in child sexual abuse. He then engaged in the “extreme abuse” of a girl aged between 10 and 12, which he recorded and stored for three years.
In mitigation she noted that Creaven has expressed remorse and has engaged with the Probation Services for the last two years. He has undergone psychotherapy and maintains committed to rehabilitation, she said.
She noted he had lost his job and future employment prospects as well as his marriage. He will be on the sex offender register for life.
She handed down a 10 year sentence and adjourned the matter to December 16 to deal with the issue of post-release supervision.
Creaven, who appeared via video link from prison, made no reaction when the sentence was handed down.
At a sentence hearing last month, Detective Garda Johanna Doyle told Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, that Creaven’s Dublin home was searched in 2017 when he was arrested in the UK and a number of devices were seized. Gardaí also made enquiries with online companies including Facebook, Skype and Paypal.
Two videos were found on a memory card, which showed Creaven videoing himself sexually assaulting a girl between the age of 10 and 12 in the Philippines in 2014, the court heard. At times, another adult present took over the recording.
Creavan was identifiable by his “distinctive tattoos” and his face was clearly visible in parts of the videos, which were 15 minutes and six minutes long respectively, the court heard. The videos were shot on October 12 and 16, 2014, and involved the same child.
A baby under the age of one was present on the first occasion and could be seen lying on the same bed as the child Creaven was abusing. At one point, Creaven could be heard saying: “Oh God, she is beautiful”. He also asked the child to look at him as he sexually assaulted her.
Gardaí found records of a Skype chat between Creaven and an account in the Philippines in November 2017. During this chat, Creaven paid €40 to view a child’s private parts. He later told the adult operating the account that he was having trouble with his credit card and he asked for her address to send cash to.
Gardaí discovered Creaven also engaged in sexual conversations with three children on Facebook in Ireland in June and July, 2017.
He told one of the children: “After seeing your pic again, I’m a fair few years older than you, so probably shouldn’t be messaging you. My intentions are 100% naughty, ha.”
He sent the children sexual images, graphic stories and videos, including photos of his erect penis. One of the girls – then aged 16 – was in the care of Tusla at the time, the court heard.
Another of the children – a 14-year-old boy who was on Facebook under a girl’s name – told gardaí he almost vomited when Creaven sent him a video of a man masturbating. Creaven labelled it ‘a little spunky video for you’, the court heard. The boy left Facebook after that and never reopened the account.
A USB key that was seized from Creaven in the UK was found to contain child abuse images and videos, including one involving a two-year-old toddler.
There were no victim impact statements from the children in court. Det Gda Doyle told the court that when Creaven was interviewed by gardaí in 2019, she “begged” him to give her more information on who the child in the Philippines was. He made no comment during that interview.
However, Creaven met with the detective in prison earlier this year and provided her with more information on the child. Despite this, she has not been identified.
Creaven has no previous convictions apart from the two convictions he received in the UK in 2017, the court heard.
Lorcan Staines SC, defending, said his client was remorseful and has shown insight into his offending. His arrest was a “watershed moment” for him, he said.
Creaven has been receiving therapy and seeing a psychologist to examine “how he fell into very significant criminal behaviour and sexualised criminal behaviour”, Mr Staines said.
“He clearly was in the Philippines in order to engage in sexual activity of this type,” he said.
Creaven chose not to take bail in October 2020 and has been cooperating with gardaí and the Probation Service since he returned to Ireland after serving his UK prison sentence, counsel said.
His marriage broke down when his offences came to light and he is now divorced.
“He has lost his marriage as a result of his offending behaviour,” Mr Staines said. “He has lost his career as a result of his offending behaviour. He has lost his reputation as a result of his offending behaviour.
“He has been and will be vilified in public for the appalling crimes he has committed.”
In his letter to the court, Creaven said he wanted to offer his sincere apologies to those he hurt, particularly the girl in the Philippines for his “abhorrent behaviour”. “I know I have committed despicable acts,” he wrote.
Creaven said he was glad he was arrested in 2017. “It pulled me back from the dark and disturbing spiral that my mind had entered and which was slowly taking over my life,” he said. He had lost touch with his “moral compass”, he said.
“I’m responsible for my acts and I accept I must pay for my crimes,” he wrote.
Speaking outside court, Detective Superintendent Barry Walsh paid tribute to gardaí who he said worked with Interpol and the police in the Philippines to help identify some of Creaven’s victims.
“The conviction in this case is a clear statement that there’s no safe haven for those people who choose to engage in sexual abuse, child sex exploitation, whether that’s here in Ireland or abroad,” Det Supt Walsh said.
“In this particular case, the Online Child Exploitation Unit, within the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, worked with colleagues in Interpol and the Philippines to identify a number of child sexual abuse victims who were subsequently repatriated to places of safety.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our people for their commitment and their good work.”
Det Supt Walsh said it was notable that much of the child exploitation carried out by Creaven occurred on mainstream social media platforms.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone with an online social media presence, particularly young people, not to engage with anyone who is a stranger via social media platform,” he said.
“I would ask people to report to (gardaí) any approach or any person who approaches them in a way that they consider to be sexually exploitative or with content which is abusive or sexually explicit.”
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