herald

Monday 21 May 2018

Predator made girls (9) make sick sex vieos over Skype

Matthew Horan will be sentenced on Friday after admitting sexually exploiting young girls and having child porn
Matthew Horan will be sentenced on Friday after admitting sexually exploiting young girls and having child porn

A Dublin man coerced nine-year-old girls to send sexually graphic pictures of themselves from devices they had purchased with their Holy Communion money, 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 did not 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 1 and November 23, 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 11, 2015.

Shock

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

He further pleaded guilty to possessing child porn on a Sony mobile phone at his home on July 7, 2016. He had no previous convictions. Judge Martin Nolan adjourned the case to Friday and said he intends to sentence Horan then.

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 gardai contacted him.

He said he was shown an image of his daughter and felt like his home "had been invaded and a burglary had taken place". 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," he added.

Det Gda Connolly told the court that American authorities contacted gardai about a Gmail account being used to share child porn.

Investigators eventually tracked the Gmail account to Horan and gardai 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 more than a year, expert gardai discovered thousands of images and videos of child porn. Some of these involved 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.

Conversations

Det Gda Connolly told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting, 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**ks who are totally cool with being sick f**ks."

Det Gda Connolly 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 Patrick Gageby, defending, said his client was a perpetual loner who was on the autism spectrum. The death of his mother when he was aged three left his father adrift and this had an effect on his upbringing.

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.

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