By Brion Hoban
A former national swimmer and lifeguard who was caught in possession of child pornography has received a fully suspended sentence.
Kevin Harty (32) downloaded 1,299 video files involving children aged for the most part between eight and 15 years old being sexually abused. One file depicted a baby girl aged between one and two being abused.
Harty of Ballintyre Meadows, Ballinteer, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of child pornography at his address on September 7, 2018. He has no previous convictions
Passing sentence today, Judge Elma Sheahan said it was a serious offence in which children had been “cruelly exploited” for the creation of the material. She said the number of videos was “clearly noteworthy”, although it was not at the higher level in cases of this kind.
Judge Sheahan said Harty has been engaging with therapeutic services since November 2018. She said that owing to the “concrete evidence that rehabilitation is underway”,it was appropriate to give him an opportunity to continue this rehabilitation in the community.
She sentenced Harty to two years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions including that he continue to engage with therapeutic services.
At an earlier sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Avril Foley told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that Harty was arrested at his workplace after an investigation involving UK authorities and gardaí identifed his laptop as having been used to download the files.
Det Gda Foley said the files were downloaded on dates between October 9, 2017 and August 3, 2018. She said that the majority of the files could be deemed category two, in the mid-range of such material, while the video involving the baby fell under category one, the most serious on the scale.
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In interview with gardaí, Harty said he was “repulsed” by the material but “couldn’t stop himself from looking at it”. He denied that he had used the material to masturbate and denied having a sexual interest in young children, claiming he had not looked at 90% of the files.
Mr Cole told the court that it was not possible to ascertain which files among the 1,299 had been viewed and which had not. He said the files were named for the acts which they depicted and given names such as ‘Lolita’ “which has obvious connotations”.
Gda Foley agreed with Karl Monaghan BL, defending, that Harty had said he “didn’t know” why he had downloaded the files. He had recently exited a five-year relationship and had “hit rock bottom and never come back from it”.
“It was on the back of a rough couple of years in the UK, I was doing weird things,” he told gardaí. “I know I shouldn’t have done it.”
Mr Monaghan noted that Harty had been fully cooperative throughout the Garda investigation. He said his client had readily admitted possession of the materials and had denied that he had distributed them in any way.
The court heard that Harty had represented Ireland as a swimmer and had worked as a lifeguard at a leisure centre in the UK before moving up to the level of general manager. He had returned to Ireland in May of 2018 and has lost his job since his arrest.