BY OLIVIA KELLEHER
A BALTIMORE man whose computers were seized after the FBI identified him as being a viewer of child porn on a site on the dark web has received a two-year suspended sentence.
At Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Helen Boyle warned Paul Schilling (35) that although his guilty plea involved possessing just three images, it still meant that ‘three children somewhere in the world are being abused.’
Det Sgt Kevin Long of the Cork West Divisional Protective Services Unit in Dunmanway told the court that in April of 2016 gardaí were contacted by the FBI in relation to an IP address which was traced to Baltimore in West Cork.
Officials from the FBI informed gardaí that the IP address belonged to a person who viewed child porn on a specific site which they were monitoring.
On May 12th 2016 gardaí conducted a search of the man’s home at the Hill in Baltimore. Computer items were seized.
Mr Schilling made a voluntary statement to gardaí where he admitted viewing pornography of underage children, having first accessed adult porn. Mr Schilling voluntarily gave gardaí his computer passwords and three images of child porn were found on his desktop. He told gardaí that he had never uploaded or shared images of child porn.
Det Sgt Long said Mr Schilling had one previous conviction for a matter that was not in any way linked to child porn. He has not come to the attention of gardaí since his arrest in 2016.
Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan said that his client had suffered with mental health difficulties all through his life and had undergone counselling.
He stated that Schilling had a good record of turning his life around, having taken control of an addiction to cannabis many years ago.
Mr O’Sullivan said that Schilling was a loner who enjoyed long distance swimming. His client, who is studying herbalism, completed a Fetac course but had not finished secondary school. He has an undergraduate degree and is currently studying for a masters. Mr O’Sullivan said that his client had poor social skills which made his life quite difficult.
He argued that although three images of child porn was too much, ‘it is about as low as you can go’ when it comes to possession, and appealed for leniency.
He said that going on the Sex Offenders Register and publicity from the case would in itself be an immense burden for the defendant. He added that his client had solid roots in West Cork and was suitable for garda supervision.
Judge Boyle agreed that a non custodial sentence was appropriate in the case. She said that Schilling had co-operated fully with gardaí and at one point handed over another computer to gardai ‘of his own volition.’
She said that Schilling had shown an ability to better himself, both with education and in beating his dependence on cannabis. She stressed that all child porn was serious, but factored in the low number of images before giving Schilling a two-year sentence, which she suspended. Mr Schilling gave an undertaking to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
The defendant will go on the Sexual Offenders Register for a period of five years.