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Indecent image of toddler taken by her father was destined for online sharing, court hears


A depraved dad who took an indecent image of his naked two-year-old child who he positioned to fully expose her genitals, has been jailed.

The defendant, who is aged in his twenties, but cannot be named to protect the child, pleaded guilty to committing the offence and sexually assaulting her on September 14, 2020.

He further admitted perverting the course of justice five days later by deleting the contents of his phone.

Dungannon Crown Court heard the image was discovered by investigators who worked to trace who had taken it and identify the child.

A user profile was traced to the defendant and the image was identified by the child’s mother.

She confirmed the defendant was the father and her partner at the time.

While initial enquiries were underway, the defendant became aware of the investigation and wiped his phone before coming into contact with police, “the implication being that he was deleting evidence”.

During interview however, he maintained he wiped the device in order to delete “other embarrassing material and nothing to do with the child image”.

Beyond that, over the course of two interviews the defendant provided largely ‘no comment’ replies but all matters would later be accepted.

Prosecution counsel added: “There was a breach of trust and the child was very young at just two-years-old. There is high culpability and there was a degree of planning.”

The defendant, who appeared by video-link from prison, held his head in his hands while the case details were disclosed.

His barrister conceded the circumstances were “both difficult and emotive …. but point out the defendant pleaded guilty without the necessity of evidence being called. Although it is accepted this wasn’t at the first opportunity the family were not required to go through the trauma of a trial”.

The court was told the defendant has a previous record but nothing of a sexual nature.

“The dominant feature in his offending is abuse of drugs,” said the defence. “He has provided a detailed account of the level of drug abuse at the time of offending, and that is not by way of excusal but perhaps provides some explanation … He also sustained a serious injury several years ago which created significant psychological problems and personality deficits.

“Overall, it’s a complicated, but relevant situation …he has expressed genuine remorse and there have been significant ramifications. His marriage has ended, and he has no contact with any family. This is something he will have to carry, not just through his sentence, but potentially the rest of his life.”

In response to an enquiry by Judge Brian Sherrard the defence explained while the defendant was “in possession of the image and the indication is that it was to be placed online, that is not part of the case.”

In respect of deleting the phone contents, the defence said this “was not related to the image or this case and there was no other material of this nature on the device. I don’t want to say more in open court as there would be obvious ramifications.”

The defendant was assessed as presenting a high likelihood of reoffending and requiring high-level supervision.

Judge Sherrard told him: “You placed your naked two-year-old child on a bed and photographed her with her genitals exposed. She was entirely vulnerable. This was a serious breach of trust, aggravated by the capturing of the sexual assault in an image.”

He imposed a sentence of two years and 10 months and ordered the defendant to remain on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely.

A Sexual Offences Prevention Order was also imposed to run for 10 years.

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