Child porn man wants editor jailed for contempt

A man convicted of owning child pornography who later won a declaration that a newspaper story about him was false and defamatory is seeking to have the title’s editor jailed for contempt of court.

Barry Watters, who is still serving his sentence for possessing the pornographic material, wants Star on Sunday editor Ger Colleran jailed, and an order for the sequestration of the paper’s assets, after it ran a story headlined: “We may have to apologise to this revolting pervert …Will we mean it? Hell no.”

Barrister Hugh Mohan, for Watters, told Judge Joseph Mathews SC in the Dublin District Court at a hearing on November 10 that the newspaper’s action had driven a coach and horses through his judgment.

The judge had made the declaration of falsity Watters sought and had ordered the newspaper to publish an apology, although he said the newspapers and Watters’ legal team should agree on its wording.

Watters brought the action under the Defamation Act 2009, which reformed Ireland’s libel laws and allows for court to make declarations of falsity if they believe the defendant in a libel action has no prospect of being able to defend a claim.

Mohan told the judge the judgment had ordered that the newspaper should not repeat original libel.

But, he said, he would be arguing that the libel was repeated when he applied for the order committing Colleran and directing sequestration of the assets of Independent Star Ltd, the newspaper’s publisher.

Eoin McCullough SC, for the Star on Sunday, disagreed that an article about the judgment in the November 7 edition of the newspaper amounted contempt.

Watters had applied for the declaration of falsity over a Star on Sunday story alleging that he had been involved in a “seedy” and “weird” relationship with a man convicted of abducting, raping and attempting to murder a woman.

The case was the first application for such a declaration under the terms of sections 28, 30 and 33 of the Defamation Act 2009, which reformed Ireland’s libel laws.

Judge Mathews SC, had held in a decision on November 3 that despite his convictions for possessing child pornography, Watters had a residual reputation which was damaged by the newspaper’s story.

The newspaper had argued that Watters had no reputation which could be damaged.

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