Five years after the investigation began, Detective Garda Kieran Murphy received incriminating evidence from the suspect’s computers, he told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The detective explained that in 2010, Interpol provided the Garda with the information—a mere IP address—of a suspected child pornography viewer. A brief investigation followed wherein investigators discovered that a 37-year-old IT expert downloaded child pornography from the darknet.
He, upon the Garda’s search of his residence, handed over two laptops. The Garda mirrored his behavior and handed them over to the Garda Computer Crime Investigation Unit. That unit faced a workload of digital evidence that kept them in a continual “backlog” of forensic analysis. Although the 37-year-old suspect, Richard Coghlan, surrendered the laptops in 2010, Detective Murphy received no actionable information until November 2015.
Actionable information, in this case, provides a mixed message; Coghlan pleaded guilty to the possession of 325 pornographic images on September 21, 2010. Between the date in which the gardaí searched his computer and the date of his recent sentencing, Coghlan willingly confessed behind the guilty plea. He voluntarily told officers that child pornography from the the darknet was on the laptops. And, of course said the forensic analysis would find it.
The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Coghlan never committed any crimes pride to the one at hand nor recommitted in the seven years between hearings. The Court also heard the seriousness of the pictures found. Detective Murphy explained that 325 images existed in total. Of that 325, “52 fell into the lowest category of seriousness, 175 were in the second lowest category and 98 fell into the second highest category.” An unknown number of movies also came from the man’s computers, along with his darknet search history.
Forensic analysts found that Coghlan searched the darknet for several explicit terms, all related to child pornography.
Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Coghlan to a two year prison term, suspended on fulfillment of strict terms instituted by the Judge. Aside from the inability to access internet devices, the full list of terms have not been disclosed. A violation of the conditions carry a mandatory seven-year-sentence. Judge Nolan explained that the sentencing was so mild, compared to other sentences for the same crimes, because Coghlan possessed only “just over 300” images. He said that he previously dealt with suspects who downloaded thousands and tens of thousands of images.
‘It’s an odious crime to have committed and he should be ashamed of himself. I’ve no doubt that people who know him, think less of him now,’ the judge said before he added that Coghlan was an intelligent man and a man of ability.
As long as Coghlan does not reoffend or access internet devices, he will remain a free man, so to speak. Even the case detective believed the defendant showed a low risk of offending in the future.