Man possessed some of the most serious images of child abuse

May 23, 2022

A man has admitted possessing and distributing what were described in court as some of the most serious images of children being sexually abused and raped.

Paul Cowell appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to the offences.

The 53-year-old was arrested following a Garda raid led by Detective Garda Enda Jennings following earlier work carried out by Garda Declan McBride on Cowell’s home at Meenacladdy, Gortahork on December 11th last.

European Police Agency Interpol identified the user of certain IP addresses which took them to Cowell’s address.

Gardai recovered a laptop computer which contained hundreds of videos and pictures of young children being abused.

The court was told that the laptop was sent to the Gardai Cyber Forensic Unit for analysis.

Detective Garda John Condron, a specialist in cyber crime, gave evidence of come of the horrific contents contained in the videos.

Cowell is charged with having 198 movies depicting extremely sexual and physical abuse of both male and female prepubescent children and babies being abused by both adult males and females and other children.

He is also charged with having 303 images depicting similar scenes as well as possessing four movie files of prepubescent boys and girls with their genital areas clearly exposed.

These charges relate to unknown dates between January 1st, 2016 and July 27th, 2018 at his home at Meenacladdy.

Cowell, who is originally from the UK, had been living in West Donegal for more than decade.

All charges are contrary to Section 6 (1) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act of 1998.

Barrister for Cowell, Ms Shane Costello, SC, instructed by solicitor Patsy Gallagher, said his client knew that he was facing a custodial sentence.

However, he asked for the case to be put back to the October sitting of the circuit court so a probation and welfare report could be gathered.

He said such a deferral could address some post release terms and conditions.

He added that his client was already on the sex offenders register and remains in custody.

Judge John Aylmer said the court has to have regard for rehabilitation and he took the view that a probation report and its expertise might be of assistance for treatment post release.

He adjourned the case until October.