Readers may be familiar with the recent decision of Judge Martin Nolan not to impose a custodial sentence on former civil servant Patrick Corcoran, 53, after he was caught with over 7,000 images and 21 videos of child pornography.
In October 2012 Judge Nolan allowed 29 year old Graham Griffiths, who committed a violent sex attack on a 17-year-old, to walk free from court, suspending his four year sentence in full on condition he pay his victim 15,000 Euros. Griffiths had told gardaí he felt he was ‘under some magnetic force’ and ‘it must have been the hormones’ that caused him to attack.
In December 2012 Judge Nolan fully suspended a three year sentence given to David Sharpe, a father of one, who went to a shop looking for help to transfer child pornography from one phone to another has avoided a jail term. The screensaver on his phone had an image of a child naked from the waist down as the background wallpaper. 44 images were recovered, 18 of which depicted children aged between eight and 14 years old engaged in penetrative sex, nine which showed children engaged in non-penetrative sexual activity and 17 which showed children in sexual poses. Judge Nolan said he was satisfied a prison term was not justified before he sentenced Sharpe to three years which he suspended in full on strict conditions including that he remain under probation supervision for 18 months. He accepted that Sharpe had not distributed, purchased nor shared the images and had therefore not supported the child pornographic industry.
In July 2012 Judge Nolan again refused to impose a custodial sentence on a convicted sex offender who viewed animated child porn – graphic depictions of sexual activity with speech bubbles that left no doubt they were of children. Judge Martin Nolan said if the material had involved real children or if O’Neill had paid for it, he would be imposing a “reasonably severe” sentence. He added: “This material, no matter how odious, did not harm or exploit children.”
However, some before Judge Nolan have not been as lucky:
In October 2012, Judge Nolan jailed Rhoda Salunoy, from the Philippines, for three years with the final 16 months suspended for theft of EUR 8,531 from her elderly employer. Ms Salunoy was a gambling addict.
In June 2012 Judge Nolan jailed 36-year-old Charity Ajayioba,a Nigerian prostitute working in three properties in Sligo for three years for running brothels. Ajayioba had claimed that she had been trafficked to Ireland and was forced to work here as a prostitute to pay back a debt. The judge accepted the facts of the case were unclear as to what position Ajayioba held, her level of control or the amount of profit she made in the running of the brothels, but she had been directing at least one prostitute and was keeping brothels.
In June 2012 Judge Nolan jailed Martin Forsyth, from Bray, for two and a half years. Forsyth had set up a bogus company to import valium so he could self-medicate to get off heroin, and had later advertised the valium online and subsequently supplied it to a ‘UK source. Judge Nolan took into account Forsyth’s early plea of guilty and cooperation with the gardai but said ‘ he must have known and appreciated what he was doing was wrong.’
In May 2012 Judge Nolan jailed a mother and member of the travelling community, Mary Connors for three years for EUR250,000 welfare fraud committed over the course of 14 years, saying he had to ‘send out a message’ to welfare fraudsters.
And, finally…in March 2012 Judge Nolan jailed Paul Begley, of Begley Brothers Limited for six years after he admitted labelling consignments of garlic as apples to avail of a lower tax rate. Mr Begley’s sentence was subsequently reduced to two years by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Previously: “If You Re-Offend No Mercy Will Be Shown”