| 7.1°C Dublin

Vigilantes suspected as child porn man's car torched in attack

  • Second attack in a week on criminal

  • Man had sexual images on mobile

Close

The burning car

The burning car

The burning car

Gardaí are closely monitoring the situation after a 59-year-old convicted child porn offender was targeted by vigilantes twice within the space of a week.

It is understood that officers have given David Sharpe security advice after his car was torched near his home off Drogheda Street in Balbriggan on Tuesday evening.

The arson attack happened just four days after vigilantes smashed up the same vehicle.

Our images show Sharpe's car on fire in an incident that is being investigated by Balbriggan gardaí.

"An exact motive for this has yet to be established but there is no evidence that Sharpe has been involved in any recent crime," a senior source told the Herald last night.

"The most likely explanation is that someone in the locality became aware of his past conduct and decided to take the law into their own hands in an attempt to drive him out of the area.

"At approximately 5.55pm on Tuesday gardaí received reports of a car on fire in the area.

"Dublin Fire Brigade attended the scene and the vehicle has since been removed from the scene for a technical examination," a Garda spokesman said.

No one was injured in the incident.

Sharpe avoided jail in December 2012 after he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of child pornography at the O2 Store, Scotch Hall, Drogheda, Co Louth, on June 13, 2009. He had no previous convictions.

The court heard that he asked the shop assistant in the O2 store for help and handed him one Nokia phone which had an image of a child naked from the waist down as the background wallpaper.

Close

David Sharpe

David Sharpe

Collins

David Sharpe

Suspicious

When the staff member went to help him transfer images from this phone to another Nokia phone, he noticed similar images and became suspicious.

He told Sharpe that he needed to keep the phone to send it off to be repaired. He then contacted gardaí.

Sharpe was allowed leave with the second phone but this was later seized as part of the investigation.

The images on both phones were later analysed and found to be child pornography.

A total of 44 images were recovered, 18 of which depicted children aged between eight and 14 years old engaged in penetrative sex, nine which showed children engaged in non-penetrative sexual activity and 17 which showed children in sexual poses.

Sharpe later admitted in Garda interview that the images were his but claimed he downloaded them from a naturist and young models website.

He told gardaí he had been "curious about looking at" child pornography for about two or three years but said he had stopped six months prior to his arrest.

He denied ever downloading child pornography or entering any child pornography website.

Sharpe was arrested after the images were analysed. In interview he made more admissions but again denied ever having paid for the images.

Judge Martin Nolan said he was satisfied a prison term was not justified before he sentenced Sharpe to three years, which he suspended in full on strict conditions including that he remain under probation supervision for 18 months.

He accepted that Sharpe had not distributed, purchased nor shared the images.

Judge Nolan accepted that Sharpe was somewhat naive, which he said was obvious from the way the offence came to light, but added that he had "enough insight" to know what he was doing was wrong.

This week's arson attack on Sharpe's car led to a Garda information appeal in which they stressed that the "incident is being investigated as a standalone incident and is not believed to be linked to any other fire incidents in the Balbriggan area in the recent past."

Sources have stressed that gardaí are "majorly concerned" about a mis-information on social media that has led to a gang of local youths being blamed for multiple attacks in the north Co Dublin town.

"People are blaming a particular group for all that is happening in the town - the truth is that this information is incorrect.

"Yes, there are gangs in Balbriggan and yes, this a cause of major concern and gardaí are actively monitoring the situation and yes, there has been violence.

"But people are putting up stuff on social media blaming a certain ethnic group for all the violence and the fact is that this is not the case.

"Yes, there are gangs who are calling themselves out on social media - slagging each other off in rap songs - these are gangs of teenagers from Balbriggan, Drogheda and Blanchardstown.

"Gardaí are following a number of lines of enquiry into separate public order incidents which occurred in Balbriggan last weekend and these matters are being fully investigated," a Garda spokesman told the Herald.

"Public Order patrols are applied as required throughout the DMR North Division which includes Balbriggan District.

"Every effort is being made to support communities and to keep them safe," he said.