Marques to be managed as high-risk sex offender on Irish return

US jailing of Irishman who facilitated sharing of child abuse images ‘significant’ – garda

Eric Eoin Marques operated an anonymous web hosting service between July 2008 and July 2013 which was used to share millions of images of child sexual abuse. Photograph: Paddy Cummins

Eric Eoin Marques operated an anonymous web hosting service between July 2008 and July 2013 which was used to share millions of images of child sexual abuse. Photograph: Paddy Cummins

 

An Irishman described as the world’s largest facilitator of child abuse imagery will be managed as a high-risk sex offender when he returns to Ireland, a senior garda has said.

Det Chief Supt Declan Daly, head of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, described the 27-year sentence handed down to Eric Eoin Marques by a US Federal Court on Wednesday as “significant”.

Marques (36), from Dublin, was extradited from Ireland two years ago, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child abuse images in February last year.

The dual US and Irish citizen operated an anonymous web hosting service between July 2008 and July 2013 which was used to share millions of images of child sexual abuse.

Chief Supt Daly said the sentence “reflects the complexity and scale” of the enterprise.

“It also highlights the consequences for persons involved in any way with the creation or distribution of child abuse imagery,” he said. “People have a belief that borders will protect them from this international crime, which it won’t.”

Marques has indicated in court that he wanted to return to Ireland once he has served his sentence.

Chief Supt Daly said the offence Marques is convicted of in the US makes him subject to the Sexual Offences Act in Ireland.

“He will be managed as a high-risk sex offender when he returns to this jurisdiction,” he said.

The senior garda said a “significant number” of children identified by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a result of the investigation into Marques have been located and received the services they need.

No children were identified as being in Ireland.

Warning

Chief Supt Daly warned that the Marques sentence should serve as a warning and deterrent to others involved in child exploitation online.

“Everyone who engages in any online activity leaves a footprint,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“We identify that footprint, where they are located and we are dogged in our determination to identify those who exploit children, whether they live in Ireland or externally.”

Police co-operation internationally for detecting child abuse offences is “very strong” and gardaí work closely with the FBI, Homeland Security and Interpol.

“I’m sure at some stage Eoin Marques was of the belief that gardaí were too busy or that US police authorities were unlikely to come after him,” he said. “He was wrong in that belief and anyone else involved in the exploitation of children online would also be wrong if they believe external borders will protect them.

“Child abuse imagery is based on supply and demand . . . in response to demand a child somewhere in the world is sexually abused. Therefore, all who are involved are culpable.”

The US government said Marques’ web service “hosted dozens of insidious criminal communities dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children and spread millions of images of that abuse”.

He was accused of renting out his vast network of servers to websites which trade in the buying and selling of the most extreme forms of child abuse material. He is alleged to have earned €1.15 million over a five-year period.

Marques lived in New York until the age of five with his Brazilian father and Irish mother before moving to Ireland.

He was arrested in August 2013 at his apartment on Mountjoy Square in Dublin on foot of a formal request from the US. His extradition to the US was approved in 2015.

A series of appeals against the extradition lasted four years and went to the Supreme Court. These were all rejected and Marques was finally surrendered to the custody of US Marshals in March 2019.