Young girls coerced by Dublin man to send him sexually graphic pictures

One girl (9) who was targeted had bought mobile phone with her communion money

In a forensic investigation that took over a year, expert gardaí  discovered thousands of images and videos of child porn. Some of these involved young babies.

In a forensic investigation that took over a year, expert gardaí discovered thousands of images and videos of child porn. Some of these involved young babies.

 

A Dublin man who possessed thousands of child porn images coerced young girls to send sexually graphic pictures and videos of themselves, a court has heard.

Matthew Horan (26) used Skype, Snapchat, Instagram and Kik, an anonymous instant messaging application, to send and receive child porn images from six identified child users in Ireland and nine unknown users around the world.

A forensic examination of Horan’s computer uncovered recorded Skype calls between him and two nine year-old-girls, both individually and together. The recordings included footage of these girls engaging in graphic sexual acts.

Horan also engaged in sexually explicit text conversations with the girls, during which there would be an exchange of photos.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Horan would use Kik to share child porn images and videos with unidentified users from around the world, most of whom claimed to be young teenagers.

He threatened to share an 11-year-old girl’s nude images to her social media if she didn’t send him more graphic photos.

In the text exchange between them, this little girl repeated that she would kill herself. Horan then continued to coerce her to send more images, the court heard.

Horan, of St John’s Crescent, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to a count each of sexually exploiting two girls within the State on dates between April 1st and November 23rd, 2014.

He pleaded guilty to two more counts of sexually exploiting a child and one count of distributing child porn on dates in 2015. He further pleaded guilty to possessing child porn at his address on July 11th, 2015.

He pleaded guilty to three further counts of sexually exploiting female children through Snapchat and Instagram in the State on dates between May 21st 2015 and July 7th 2016.

He further pleaded guilty to possessing child porn on a Sony mobile phone at his home on July 7th 2016. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan adjourned the case to Friday and said he intends to sentence Horan then.

‘Absolute shock’

Detective Garda David Connolly told Lorcan Staines, prosecuting, that the parents of the then nine-year-old girls from the Skype recordings expressed their “absolute shock” when they found out about the exchanges with Horan.

They said they “felt sick to the pit of our stomachs” and felt they failed to protect their daughters from the online predator.

Det Gda Connolly told Mr Staines that American authorities contacted gardaí about a gmail account being used to share child porn. Investigators eventually tracked the gmail account to Horan and gardaí­ searched his address.

They seized a number of devices and got him to disclose all of the passwords to his online applications.

In a forensic investigation that took over a year, expert gardaí­ discovered thousands of images and videos of child porn. Some of these involved young babies.

Horan also engaged in graphic text exchanges with the child users in which he would describe violent sexual acts.

Det Gda Connolly said Horan would copy and paste the same descriptions of sexual acts he would like to do and send them to multiple message recipients.

He would also send Kik messages to users, opening with the question: “Yo, wanna see some child porn?” before sending graphic images.

Det Gda Connolly told Mr Staines that forensic experts also found Skype conversations between Horan and an individual who is currently under investigation and who had a nine-year-old daughter.

Through the conversations Horan and this man shared fantasies about the young girl.

Horan told the man: “We’re just two sick f***s who are totally cool with being sick f***s”.

Perpetual loner

Det Gda Connolly agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that his client had a closed existence with incessant activity on the internet.

He further agreed that Horan had never established physical contact with any of the children and there was no evidence of commercial gain through sharing the images.

Mr Gageby said his client was a perpetual loner who was on the autism spectrum. He said the death of his mother when he was aged three left his father adrift and this had an effect on his upbringing.

He said that a psychological report stated that “fixated interests of people on the autism spectrum often functions as a way of reducing stress”. He added that it was hard to see if there were any other interests in Horan’s life.

He said Horan lived a dingy existence and that since completing his Leaving Cert in 2009 he has done nothing except to be at home and be on the computer.

Communion money

The father of one of the then nine-year-old girls made a victim impact statement on her behalf, describing how she was targeted by an online predator who she thought was a child her own age.

He said she had bought her Samsung phone with her communion money to watch cartoons, dancing and singing online. He said it came as an “absolute shock” when gardaí contacted him and he could never have dreamt of the purpose for the subsequent meeting with officers.

He said he was shown an image of his daughter and felt like his home “had been invaded and a burglary had taken place”. The man said he also felt guilty because he had failed to protect his child.

He said he was upset and uncomfortable because once something is out there on the internet, it can never be erased. “This makes us sick to the pits of our stomachs,” the father said in the victim impact statement.

He added that the events will only become clearer for his daughter when she gets older.

The other little girl’s mother submitted a victim impact report on her behalf in which she described how her child had got the phone for a similar purpose, to watch cartoon and singing online.

The woman said when she found out her daughter had been targeted by an online predator pretending to be a child, “my body started to shake, my blood started to boil”.

The mother said she felt so bad that she failed to protect her child and that she will never get over what happened.