A judge pleaded to make access to child porn images more difficult when jailing a New Jersey-born Irish American attorney.

Judge Keenan Johnson was speaking at the sentencing of former lawyer Gerard Gilligan, who printed off hundreds of images of children under 12, including babies, in vile sex acts.

The judge heard Gilligan, 61, father of four adult children, had accessed a Croatia-based site which had received 12 million hits on 145,000 IP addresses in 170 countries.

Gilligan, who qualified as an attorney in New Jersey in 1979 and practiced for 20 years, admitted at Sligo Circuit Court possession of 646 images of child pornography at an address in Sligo, where he was staying on March 1, 2009.

The judge said the images in twice-married Gilligan’s crime were “despicable, repulsive and offensive to any right-minded person.”

He added, “It is absolutely frightening to realize there was such a proliferation of child pornography available for downloading. Steps should be taken to make this stuff much more difficult to access.”

The judge noted that Gilligan was convicted of four sexually-related offenses in the U.S. and was at one time sentenced to three years for aggravated sexual assault.

Earlier, the court heard that Gilligan, who has relatives in Roscommon and Co. Sligo, was registered as a sex offender for his American offenses when he moved to Sligo town in 2007.

Johnson observed that despite Gilligan engaging in therapy and although genuinely remorseful for his offense, there was concern that he was unable to control his urges and could re-offend. It was also inexcusable that he returned to the U.S. during the inquiry into his Sligo offencss.

Gilligan was arrested last year by the U.S. Marshal Service in New York and returned to Ireland.

Gilligan was sentenced to two years and nine months, with the final nine months suspended on condition that he follows any instruction from the Probation Service to undergo therapy for “his sexual depravity.”

Gerard Gilligan printed off hundreds of images of children under 12, including babies, in vile sex acts.iStock