Tuesday 24 April 2018

Man coerced young girls (9) to send sexually graphic pictures through popular social media apps, court hears

Matthew Horan (26) used Skype, Snapchat, Instagram and Kik, an anonymous instant messaging application
Matthew Horan (26) used Skype, Snapchat, Instagram and Kik, an anonymous instant messaging application

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Dublin man who possessed thousands of child porn images coerced young girls to send sexually graphic pictures and videos of themselves, 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.

Matthew Horan
Matthew Horan

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 didn’t 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.

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 has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan adjourned the case to Friday and said he intends to sentence Horan then.

Detective Garda David Connolly told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting, that the parents of the then nine-year-old girls from the Skype recordings expressed their “absolute shock” when they found out about the exchanges with Horan.

They said they “felt sick to the pit of our stomachs” and felt they failed to protect their daughters from the online predator.

Det Gda Connolly told Mr Staines that American authorities contacted gardaí about a gmail account being used to share child porn. Investigators eventually tracked the gmail account to Horan and gardaí 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 over a year, expert gardaí discovered thousands of images and videos of child porn. Some of these involved young 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.

Det Gda Connolly told Mr Staines that forensic experts also found Skype conversations between Horan and an individual who is currently under investigation and who had a daughter.

Through the conversations Horan and this man shared fantasies about the young girl.

Horan told the man: “We’re just two sick f***s who are totally cool with being sick f***s”.

Det Gda Connolly agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that his client had a closed existence with incessant activity on the internet.

He further 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 Gageby said his client was a perpetual loner who was on the autism spectrum. He said the death of his mother when he was aged three left his father adrift and this had an effect on his upbringing.

He said that a psychological report stated that “fixated interests of people on the autism spectrum often functions as a way of reducing stress”. He added that it was hard to see if there were any other interests in Horan's life.

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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