A County Armagh man has been given a suspended sentence for a litany of indecent child sex images charges.
Eugenio Miguel Rodrigues, 44, of Hartfield Avenue in Portadown appeared before Craigavon Crown Court on Monday (July 4) for sentencing.
He was charged with two counts of distributing indecent photos of children, three counts of making indecent photographs, possession of an extreme pornographic image and possession of a prohibited image of a child.
The Court heard that the defendant pleaded guilty to all counts on the indictment at arraignment on May 12.
The case arose following a search on July 20 2017 of the defendant’s home, when police seized two hard drives and a laptop.
It was told that the images in question involved children as young as two, with a “fairly high” proportion of Level A images.
At interview, the defendant accepted the items belonged to him but denied distributing images.
Among the content found were “67 extreme videos” and “320 images and 70 videos” including a “large number of the most serious category of the images that these courts deal with.”
Commenting on the amount of time it had taken for the case to reach the court, His Honour Judge Patrick Lynch QC said this was a “factor that the court has to take into account in terms of sentencing”, as it had been “hanging over his head for five years.”
Defence barrister Patrick Taggart said: “The offending appears to have started in 2007, and ended by his own volition in 2013, because he’s not been detected for another four years. When he’s interviewed, there’s been no offending in that period between 2013 and 2017.”
He noted that the best mitigation in the case was the defendant’s 15-year-old daughter, who requires 24-hour care and is in a wheelchair.
“Mr. Rodrigues and his wife have had to tailor their life entirely around the needs of their daughter,” he added.
Judge Lynch made a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) to apply for five years from Monday’s date, which encompasses various limits on behaviour, including; forbidden from staying at another address without prior approval, no Internet access unless approved and inline with certain conditions, and prohibited from undertaking any activity in paid, private, voluntary or charitable capacity which involves access to children.
Judge Lynch said: “In relation to the offences themselves, they are serious in that they involve a fairly extensive use and possession of indecent and prohibited images of children,” with the distribution of images being the aggravating feature in the case.
However, he took into account a number of factors, including; the guilty plea at an early opportunity, his clear criminal record and the personal circumstances outlined by the defence.
“The Court has taken into account the delay of five years from the time of detection to appearance……it goes without saying that the Court regards that as an inordinate delay.”
Alongside the SOPO, Rodrigues was sentenced to twelve months on each charge, suspended for three years.
He also made a formal order to disqualify Rodrigues from working with children and added him to the sex offenders’ register for ten years.