Suspended prison sentence handed down at Longford Circuit Court for possession and distribution of child pornography

Judge orders defendant to pay €5,000 to Barnardos in effort to provide restorative justice to children

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

Longford Circuit Court

A man who appeared at Longford Circuit Court charged in connection with child pornography was sentenced to one year in prison which was suspended for a period of five years on the condition that he pay €5,000 to Barnardos over the next two years, during a hearing into the matter this week.  

Valeri Tarassov (31), 73 Mostrim Oaks, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson where he pleaded guilty to the distribution of child pornography and knowingly having possession of child pornography in 2012.

The court heard the defendant grew up in  Estonia, attended high school there and then went into security.  

Sergeant Tom Quinn told the court in his direct evidence that computers from the defendant’s home were seized in June 2016.  

“Mr Tarassov confirmed that he owned the laptop at the premises and indicated that he had some knowledge of computers,” the Sergeant added.  

“He said he had accessed child pron on the internet accidently through EDonkey - a peer to peer file sharing network.”

The court then heard that the computers were sent to Dublin for analysis in October 2015 and it was confirmed by forensic experts that they contained child porn.

“Mr Tarassov said that at the time, he was drinking and taking drugs and that everything was ‘a bit of a haze’ for him,” Sergeant Quinn continued.    

“He was taking prescribed medication also.

The court also heard that the defendant was very regretful over what had happened.  

“He has expressed regret over what happened,” the Sergeant confirmed.   

Garda Michael Fitzgerald from An Garda Síochana Computer Crime Unit then told the court that after analyzing Mr Tarassov’s computer, he discovered 51 images, 42 of which were sexually explicit.

The Garda pointed out to the court that there were also a couple of hundred more images on the computer that included the exposure of the genitals of young children.

He also told the court there was one child porn movie on the device and that all images depicted children under the age of 15 years.    

Garda Fitzgerald also confirmed to the court that the defendant used EDonkey/EMule to access the images and video, and he pointed out to Judge Johnson that with regards to that particular application, once an image was downloaded it was automatically shared with other users.  

In mitigation, Mr Byrne SC for the defendant said his client was an educated man who up to this point had no prior convictions.  

“He admits that he was in a sad place from January to June of 2012 and he did cooperate with the Gardaí,” Counsel added.

“All of this dragged on for over five years and this impacted negatively on my client as he waited for the knock on the door.”

The court was told that the ‘knock on the door’ finally came in 2017 when gardaí arrested the defendant in respect of the matters before Judge Johnson.  

Mr Byrne SC then told the court that it had the benefit of a probation report in respect of his client.

“That report is positive,” continued Counsel before pointing out that Mr Tarassov was not regarded as “an ongoing threat”.

“The offending, while undoubtedly grave, was something that happened when my client was in a bad place,” added Mr Byrne SC.

Meanwhile, Judge Johnson said during his judgement that the court was impressed by the defendant’s cooperation with the gardaí during the investigation.  

The Judge also said that while the matter before him appeared to be offensive and distasteful, in terms of scale, it was along the middle range.

“At the time the defendant was drinking, taking drugs and doesn’t appear to have been in his right mind,” continued Judge Johnson.

“It also appears that the distribution in this case wa a passive action as it was automatically shared when the material was downloaded.  

“The accused is remorseful and ashamed by what he did.”

The court was also told that he defendant had bettered himself over the past few years and had completed a degree course at NUIG.

He now works in conflict resolution, the court was told.  

Judge Johnson, meanwhile, added, “He has dealt with his drug and alcohol issues and I am satisfied to hand down a one year prison sentence and suspend it for five years on the condition that Mr Tarassov enter a bond to keep the peace and pay €5,000 to Barnardos Children’s Charity over the next two years”.

Before concluding matters, the Judge said that by ordering the defendant to pay over the money to the Charity, the court felt the move would serve as some form of restorative justice to children.  

See next week's Longford Leader for more on this story.