Limerick gardai discovered hardcore child pornography at father's home after FBI tip-off

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

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david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Limerick gardai discovered hardcore child pornography at father's home after FBI tip-off

Warning: Some readers may find the following story upsetting

HUNDREDS of videos and images depicting hardcore child pornography were found by gardai who seized laptops and computers at a house in Limerick following tip-offs from the FBI and Interpol.

A 36-year-old father-of-one has pleaded guilty to possession of 257 images of child pornography and 219 videos at his home in the city on December 21, 2015.

Detective Garda Shane Ryan told Limerick Circuit Court the house was searched after an IP (internet) address associated with the property was flagged by both the FBI and Interpol.

He told John O’Sullivan BL, instructed by state solicitor Padraig Mawe, the FBI identified the address after they infiltrated and took control of a Playpen – a peer-to-peer sharing service on the Darknet.

He said Playpen had around 500,000 users across the world whose identities and locations were concealed through anonymisation techniques.

As part of Operation Pacifier, the FBI monitored activity on the site for a number of months in an effort to identify users and their IP addresses.

Detective Garda Ryan said a user by the name of “Horny Irish” was identified and subsequently linked to the address in Limerick.

He said the same address was identified  during a separate  Interpol investigation in Germany – codenamed Venedig.

When gardai called to the defendant’s home, a number of electronic devices were seized for technical and forensic examination.

The defendant, who was working in a mobile phone repair store at the time, cooperated with gardai and supplied them with passwords for the devices.

He admitted searching for, downloading and viewing child pornography but insisted he had never shared any of the material on the peer-to-peer service.

The detective said an analysis of the electronic devices showed the material which had been downloaded had not been viewed. There was evidence, he added, that thousands of other images and videos had been deleted by the defendant after they were viewed.

Mr O’Sullivan said the images and videos depicted children under 17 in “various naked poses” and engaging in sexual activity with adults. 

He said searches were actively carried out on the Darknet to locate child pornography and the content downloaded by the defendant was at the higher end the scale.

Graphic details of some of the content was outlined during the closed court hearing along with some of the search terms which were used by the defendant.

Detective Garda Ryan said some of the videos and images depicted toddlers as young as five and that one involved a six or seven year old engaged in a sexual act with a dog.

During interview, the defendant admitted searching for “violent porn” but said he did not masturbate as he is not attracted to children and did not get any sexual gratification from it.

“He believes it is an addiction,” said Mr O’Sullivan who added the defendant told gardai he has a “normal sexual relationship with his partner”.

Michael Collins SC said his client has a good work history and the evidence before the court was consistent with his contention that he never shared or uploaded child pornography to the Darknet.

He asked the judge to note his cooperation and guilty plea adding that he has sought assistance to address his problems. He added that Tusla has engaged with his client and that no concerns have emerged.

Judge Tom O’Donnell  will impose sentence later in the year.