A sex offender with an address in Lurgan has escaped a prison sentence after being found in possession of thousands of indecent photos of children, some of which he shared online.
Bessbrook man John Keenan, whose address was given to the court as Princes Street in Lurgan, was charged with 16 counts of possessing indecent images of children, 25 counts of making indecent photos, possession of a prohibited image of a child and intentionally encouraging/assisting distribution.
The 29-year-old was sentenced to two years’ probation at Newry Crown Court on Wednesday after 7,095 images were found on his computer and USB pen.
At a previous hearing the court heard on December 5, 2012, when police arrived at Keenan’s Bessbrook home with a search warrant he admitted being in possession of the images saying he had been looking at them on a daily basis for the last “four to five years”.
Through online forums Keenan would ask others to email him a photo of a child and he would then send one back in return.
The images in his possession were categories four and five - the most severe - which included sadism and bestiality. He also had over 150 videos in his possession.
A pre-sentence report from forensic clinical psychologist Dr Pollock said the accused came from “a caring family background” but he had been bullied in school - an issue which was never resolved.
Describing Keenan as “socially awkward” the report said he effectively became a recluse, and at the age of 29 had never been in an intimate or sexual relationship.
The court was told Keenan was not classified as a risk of serious harm as he had no previous record, there was no evidence of further offending, and while what he did was “gruesome”, there was no evidence of any physical contact.
While the swapping of images online was an aggravating factor, the court was told Keenan was willing to take part “in any course deemed suitable by probation to change his way of life”.
On Wednesday, describing what Keenan had in his possession as “filth”, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC said he believed the 29-year-old did not pose a risk to the public at present but that the risk would become “a live one” if he was jailed, adding that he needs treatment.
Sentencing Keenan to two years’ probation, Judge Finnegan warned Keenan: “If you don’t adhere to the terms of the probation order you will go to jail.”
He will also be on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years and placed on the barred from children list.