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Man who sent explicit images to be sentenced

A defence barrister for a Dublin man who sent explicit images to a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl has said he was subjected to “borderline entrapment”.

Keith Redmond, 45, of Clearstream Court, McKee Avenue, Finglas was caught in a sting operation by a UK-based group.

At a resumed sentence hearing, Senior Counsel Anne Rowland told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the case should be a cause for concern for the court.

Redmond had earlier pleaded guilty to attempting, by electronic means, to disseminate sexually explicit material to a child. The offence took place between 30 August and 3 December 2022.

He will be sentenced later this week.

The court was told he was identified by a group called Volunteers for Predator Exposure. The group creates decoys to identify people who attempt to communicate with children.

The group created a decoy called ‘Amber’, a 14-year-old girl living in Leeds in the UK.

Redmond had put his details on a social media platform called Kick as “male, 44, from Ireland” and the decoy, ‘Amber’, had connected with him.

Over a three-month period, their text messages went from general conversation to sexually explicit and at one point they arranged to meet but Redmond did not show up and later said he got “cold feet”.

Today defence counsel Anne Rowland told the court the case was deeply concerning as it was bordering on entrapment.

She said the website on which Redmond had registered his details had nothing to do with pornography or underage girls.

The decoy had initiated the contact and it progressed from there, she said. She said the case was quite different to others where people had set out to contact and meet children.

She said her client had pleaded guilty and was “utterly ashamed” but he had been “playing out a fantasy” and there was never any reality to it and there was never going to be a meeting.

She said there was “not a real person at the end”.

She said there was “something very objectionable about the method of the organisation which set out to entrap my client”.

Her client had nothing of that nature on his mind and was “beguiled” into it.

A probation report had put him at low risk of reoffending even though there was an error in the report which wrongly stated that he had initiated the contact, she said.

Her client had now “lost everything” including his marriage which had been a difficult one, which is why he went looking for company on the website. She urged the judge to consider a non-custodial sentence.

Judge Orla Crowe said she would finalise sentence on Thursday after considering the defence submissions.

At the sentence hearing last November, Garda Tracey O’Reilly told the court that the UK group had set up the decoy “Amber” who made contact with Redmond.

Within a few messages, Redmond asked ‘Amber’ what age she was and she replied that she was 14.

Redmond then replied: “OK I’m a bit too old for you,” and the decoy replied, “it’s up to you,”.

Redmond answered “add me so” before requesting that the conversation move to the private messaging service WhatsApp.

They continued texting each other over the next three months in a conversation that spanned 83 typed pages, the court heard. The chat was initially an ordinary conversation but later became sexually explicit.

Redmond sent the decoy four photographs of his penis on dates in November 2022.

He also sent selfies of his face and tattoos. The court heard there was a “grooming element” in that Redmond discussed meeting ‘Amber’ for sexual activity, offered to buy her a phone and discussed running away to live together.

They spoke about booking a hotel in Leeds and Redmond said he would have to act as her father and she would have to pretend to be his daughter.

“Your Mum would kill me if she knew I was texting you so this is our secret,” one text read, while another told ‘Amber’ she was Redmond’s “sexy secret”.

The accused said he had never done anything like this before and told ‘Amber’ she was “honest, beautiful and smart”.

On one occasion, Redmond texted: “I don’t care that you’re 14, I like you lots.”

The court heard that the UK group used open-source technology to locate the person making contact with their decoy and then got in touch with a similar Irish group called Child Online Protection Enforcers.

Members of this group located Redmond on a laneway beside Boyle Sports on Manor Street in Dublin 7 and there were “angry scenes” the court heard, before gardaí were called and Redmond asked for garda protection.

Redmond gave his phone to gardaí and told them about the conversations on Kick and WhatsApp with ‘Amber’.

He said they talked about “normal stuff” at first but that it turned serious and they talked about what they would do to one another.

“After a while I sent a dick pic, I don’t know why I did it, but I did,” Redmond told gardaí.

He has no previous convictions.

Ms Rowland told the court that members of the UK group Predator Exposure have been tried in the UK for false imprisonment in the last year.

Counsel also pointed out that Kick is a social media platform and that Redmond told gardaí he had not gone on the site with any intention of making contact with a child.

The court heard of a planned meeting between Redmond and ‘Amber’ in a Leeds hotel that never happened as Redmond did not book flights.

The decoy sent him several messages on the day asking if he has come and that Redmond did not reply until he texted “sorry” two weeks later and told ‘Amber’ that he got “cold feet”.

Redmond was working as a barman and married with one child at the time of the offence, the court heard.

Counsel said Redmond’s marriage had been breaking down for several years at the time of the offence and he was very unhappy.

“He embarks on this obsessive correspondence, it has all the hallmarks of a lonely person,” Ms Rowland said.

As a result of this prosecution, Redmond has lost his job, left the family home and is now living with his parents in the city centre.

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