Jury discharged in Tralee Circuit Court trial of former garda accused with possession of child pornography

The jury has been discharged in the trial of a former garda accused with possession of child pornography at Tralee Circuit Court.

John McHugh of 6 Ard Na Lí, Tralee, had pleaded not guilty to possession of child pornography, in electronic format, between 3rd August 2006 and 29th May 2009.

The trial of 64-year-old Mr McHugh, a former garda in the Tralee Garda Division, heard from prosecution witness Sergeant Tim O’Keeffe during this morning’s session.

Tom Rice, acting on behalf of the DPP, questioned Sergeant O’Keeffe on two interviews he jointly conducted on the accused in 2009 and 2013.

During an interview in June 2013, Mr McHugh admitted he previously had an interest in child pornography.

However, he denied being aroused from viewing it, nor did viewing it bring him sexual gratification.

A report from the Computer Crime Investigation Unit revealed eight images of child explicit sex, 28 images of child exposure and seven images of anime were found on two devices, which were confiscated during a search of the accused’s home.

During cross examination, Defence Counsel John O’Sullivan asked Sergeant O’Keeffe about the interview that took place in Newcastle West Garda Station.

Mr O’Sullivan claimed the garda’s questioning was oppressive, and he asked if the questions were designed to ‘break the will’ of the accused.

Sergeant O’Keeffe denied this, and added he had no improper interest whether or not the accused pleaded guilty or not.

A period of legal argument ensued, following which Judge Tom O’Donnell discharged the panel of six men and six women.