Sunday 18 August 2019

Alleged child porn mastermind was 'weird boy who always played alone'

Extradited: Eric Eoin Marques faces decades in prison is he is found guilty. Photo: Patrick Cummins
Extradited: Eric Eoin Marques faces decades in prison is he is found guilty. Photo: Patrick Cummins
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Eric Eoin Marques couldn't connect with his peers. But he utilised his prodigious tech skills to make money as a child entrepreneur - and eventually grew up to be accused of being the world's biggest facilitator of child pornography.

Mr Marques (33) was extradited to the US on March 23, after a six-year legal battle.

Mr Marques, of Mountjoy Square, Dublin, originally grew up in Clonshaugh.

The man now facing allegations he conspired to distribute and advertise child pornography on the dark web lived an isolated life as a child.

Neighbours in Clonshaugh painted a picture of a lonely child who couldn't fit in, but who taught himself early tech skills.

"The children all called Eric 'Casper'," one elderly woman said. "He was a very odd boy. All my kids said he was weird. He got the name 'Casper' because he was so pale, like the cartoon ghost.

"And he never hardly seemed to go out. You'd see him running up and down the street sometimes but he was always alone, he didn't play with other kids.

"He tried to play with my kids a few times but they didn't want to, he couldn't connect with them. They thought he was weird."

But another woman, who says her children did attempt to play with him, believes nothing could have altered his path. "I'm glad the Americans have him," she said. "Because if he went through the Irish justice system, it would go too easy on him.

"Eric had the chance to play with my kids when he was a child. He didn't want to. He'd come over to them for minutes and then just wander off and play on his own.

"But there was more to him. He was very smart. I remember my kids said he used to make some sort of CDs or video games in his room and sell them round the corner.

"He was using technology very early, making things to sell and I think that's pretty unusual.

"He was motivated to do that and to make money from it. Other kids were just running round the green, being kids, playing.

"His mother works very hard. She is a good woman. No mother can imagine having a son accused of something like that. I feel for her."

Mr Marques, who holds dual Irish and US citizenship, is accused of renting out server space used to host a wide range of child abuse images and videos across the globe.

He is alleged to have made hundreds of thousands of euro from advertising and distributing the material.

Mr Marques had offered to plead guilty provided he was prosecuted in Ireland, but the Director of Public Prosecutions rejected this.

If he is convicted, Mr Marques will face decades in a federal prison. Some of the charges carry 30-year terms.

Irish Independent

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