A student who searched for and downloaded child sexual abuse material “of the most depraved nature” has been jailed for 16 months.
Albaraa Turkistani (27) was caught with 272 images and 159 videos of children and babies being “molested, raped and sexually assaulted” by men, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Sentencing him on Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan said accessing child abuse material “is obviously not a victimless crime”.
“We don't know who the victims are, but this is real abuse, videoed and put out there,” the judge said. He noted Turkistani regularly searched for “material of the most depraved nature” which included babies being sexually abused.
The judge accepted Turkistani's assertion that he did not view all the material he downloaded, but said he viewed a substantial amount of it.
Turkistani, with an address in Central Park, Leopardstown, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of possessing the images contrary to the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act at his home on April 19, 2017.
In a letter of apology to the court, Turkistani wrote: “I realise I have committed a terrible, hideous and evil act.” He said he sought out therapy immediately after he was arrested in order to address longstanding issues from his childhood.
He said being arrested was “the most important turning point in my life” and that he has spent the last four years trying to change his life and correct his “wrong-doing”.
Detective Garda Paul Kane told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were alerted to the material from German Interpol and got a search warrant for Turkistani's home.
They seized a number of devices and the material was found on one of his laptops. Turkistani immediately admitted to downloading the material, the court heard.
Sara Phelan SC, defending, outlined a number of incidents from Turkistani's childhood which the court heard contributed to his getting involved in downloading such material. The court heard Turkistani grew up in Saudi Arabia and moved to Ireland with his mother and sister in 2015.
He is currently studying for a degree in Retail and Services Management and hopes to go on to complete a Masters, Ms Phelan said. He works part-time in a pizza shop to support himself.
“He very much wishes to contribute to society, to continue to do well in his studies and obtain employment,” Ms Phelan said.
She told the court her client “appreciates the grave nature of the images and videos” but submitted he has not offended since and has done well in therapy. She urged Judge Nolan to consider handing down a suspended sentence.
Judge Nolan agreed there were a number of mitigating factors in the case, including the fact Turkistani has no previous convictions, but he said the nature of the case was so serious it merited a custodial sentence.
He noted Turkistani took many steps to procure the material, which he searched for specifically. “This defendant's behaviour in possessing this material was gravely reprehensible,” he said.
He handed down a three-and-a-half year sentence but suspended the final two years and two months on a number of conditions.
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