Croatian website hack led Limerick gardai to find child porn during Operation Bonfire

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Croatian website hack led Limerick gardai to find child porn during Operation Bonfire

The Courthouse, Mulgrave Street

THE hacking of an astronomy website in Croatia led gardai to discover hundreds of images of child pornography at a house in Limerick, a court has heard.

At Limerick Circuit Court, Judge Tom O’Donnell was told the home of a pensioner was searched in December 2009 as part of Operation Bonfire which was put in place after child pornography was posted on the Croatian website in August 2007.

The operation was launched after gardai were informed, through Interpol, that a number of Irish users had accessed the website and downloaded some of the images following the hack.

The now 69-year-old defendnt, who has an address on the northside of the city has pleaded guilty to two charges under the provisions of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.

One of the charges relates to the seizure of 67 images and one movie file at the man’s home on December 12, 2009. 

The second relates to the seizure of 182 images at the same address on the same date.

During a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Garda Shaun O’Hagan said the images – some of which depicted the abuse of children under 17 – were located on two computers which were seized from the man’s home.

The man, who made admissions about the images, has attended counselling since 2010 and is considered to be at a low risk of re-offending.

He told gardai he had accessed the pornographic images at a stressful time in his life and it was accepted that he was in no way involved in the manufacturing or distribution of the images.

Noting the evidence that his client’s computers were not analysed by gardai until January 2016, Brian McInerney BL said there had been an “extraordinary delay by the State”.

He said his client, has an “unblemished record”, made admissions and entered an early guilty plea.

Judge Tom O’Donnell commented that the matter has been hanging over the defendant for almost nine years and he agreed that the delay on the part of the State was not acceptable.

The delay is “simply outrageous,” he said, indicating that he will finalise the matter this Friday.