Pensioner charged with breaching court order
A 69-YEAR- OLD living The Ballagh was arrested and brought before the District Court in Wexford last week on suspicion of breaching a court order restricting his activities on line.
Bail was denied in the case of author Dorian Cowland (69) with an address at Knocknavey in The Ballagh who stood charged under the Sex Offenders Act by plain clothes Garda John Cleary.
The garda explained that he was responsible for administration of the sex offenders register in the area.
He told how he carried out a routine inspection of computers at Cowland’s home and discovered that a programme had been installed which prevented any inspection of the browser history.
A warrant was later obtained and two computers were seized and examined.
The garda noted that the defendant was bound by a Circuit Court decision made in July which obliged Cowland not to make any contact with any child under 17 years of age.
After examining the unlocked computers, the witness was concerned that the accused had established aliases on line as Patrick Joseph Cormack, Paul Curran and Paddy Fitzgerald.
Under the Fitzgerald name it was alleged that he set up a Facebook account and attempted to search for certain parties in the UK.
The witness contended that this activity was in breach of the Circuit Court order.
Garda Cleary was concerned that his prisoner, if released, would be a flight risk and a danger to children.
In support of this view, it was alleged that the defendant had been searching on line for properties for sale in France.
He had also, the court was told, made some enquiries about obtaining an Indian passport as well as recently renewing his Irish passport.
Solicitor Ed King said his client was prepared to put up €5,000 cash and the title deeds of his home in Knocknavey if granted bail.
However, the prosecution was not convinced.
Cowland was a man with plenty of means, observed the garda, who indicated that further charges were possible.
Also called into the witness box was Enniscorthy based Garda Paul Parle who said he had a master’s degree in computer forensics from UCD.
He recalled visiting the defendant’s home with his colleague John Cleary on October 13.
They went upstairs where they logged on to two devices, with the assistance of the defendant, and found it was possible to view only one day of the browser history.
However, Garda Parle disabled the browser blocker so that the officers were able to look at activities on previous dates.
Dorian Cowland was wearing a brown jacket and dark coloured roll-neck shirt as he followed proceedings.
Mr King indicated that his client would be pleading not guilty and urged the court to agree with him that the accused was entitled to bail.
The proceedings were bound to take some time and it was not yet decided whether the matter will be heard in the Circuit or District Court.
Cowland was prepared to offer €5,000 in cash, or more if required.
Judge Gerard Haughton, who cited the O’Callaghan rules to guide himself, was not disposed to grant bail.
He felt that a property can be sold without the title deeds and said he had never known deeds to be submitted in this way to secure bail.
He noted garda evidence that Cowland had made efforts towards obtaining a passport abroad.
He had also been researching properties in France on the internet.
The fact that he had logged on to the Indian embassy gave the court cause for concern.
The defendant was remanded in custody for a week, to the sitting of December 4.