Wednesday 22 November 2017

Gardai intervene after man falsely labelled as sex offender on website

Anthony Luckwill
Anthony Luckwill

Alan O'Keeffe

GardaÍ took action to protect a man who was wrongly identified as a sex offender on social media.

A media website in the Midlands issued an apology and a clarification after the man's photograph was uploaded on to Facebook by a member of the public and falsely identified as a sex offender.

Gardai subsequently had to intervene when the innocent man was confronted by locals.

'KildareNow' published an article regarding the concerns of parents in Monasterevin in Co Kildare and elsewhere that convicted sex offender Anthony Luckwill had been seen in the locality.

They published what they described as "a verified police 'mug shot' photograph of Luckwill" with the article.

However, in the clarification, the outlet said that a reader posted a photograph of another man in the comments section when the article was posted on Facebook. This man looked like the convicted sex offender and was apparently seen in Monasterevin.

Shortly after the posting, there was an altercation between locals and the man. There is no suggestion that the man had done anything wrong.

To avoid an escalation, the man had to be given Garda protection in order to leave the area.

"KildareNow would like to unreservedly apologise to that innocent person who gardaí also confirmed is not Anthony Luckwill," the media outlet added in its statement. "We also ask that no further images of this innocent person are posted on KildareNow's Facebook or any other social media platform."

A Garda press office spokesman said: "Gardaí in Monasterevin were alerted to an incident in a premises on Dublin Street on Friday at approx. 8.30pm. Gardaí attended and removed a man for his own safety."

A spokeswoman for Facebook said the social media company was investigating the circumstances of what occurred.

Luckwill has a series of convictions for possession of child pornography, both here and in Wales. He sexually assaulted two young boys in 2011 and subsequently received a four-and-a-half-year jail term.

The sex offender, who is in his mid-40s and previously had an address in Navan, Co Meath, was jailed after posing on the internet as a casting agent for TV programmes.

In 2013, Trim Circuit Court was told that Luckwill set up an "audition" for a 16-year-old boy, whom he then sexually assaulted.

Luckwill, originally from Clondalkin in Dublin, was living in Navan at the time of the offence in 2011 and the teenager was brought to his home for the "audition" by his mother.

He also sent him sexually suggestive messages in relation to what might occur at auditions, and said it was common for casting agents to have sexual relations with potential actors.

Luckwill pleaded guilty to defilement of a child under the age of 17. He was also sentenced for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy.

Irish Independent

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