Child porn man ‘understood the damage yet he didn’t stop’

Central Criminal Court

Matthew Horan coerced girls into sending graphic videos.

A Dublin man who possessed thousands of child porn images and coerced young girls to send him sexually graphic pictures and videos of themselves has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Matthew Horan, aged 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.

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 took part 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 repeatedly told Horan that she would kill herself. He 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 also 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 suspended the last two years of the nine-and-a-half-year sentence. He said Horan had a very unhealthy, insidious, and debased sexual interest in children.

He said the crimes were all committed for Horan’s indulgence and pleasure and Horan had exploited children in a most horrible way. He said Horan’s actions would have long-term effects on the victims.

He noted a medical report which stated that child porn became Horan’s autistic fixated interest.

“He knew what he was doing was wrong. He understood the damage and yet he didn’t stop what he was doing,” he said.

Judge Nolan backdated the sentence to June last year, when Horan went into custody. He ordered a report from the Probation Service into what interventions and services the prison service could provide to reform Horan.

“If there are such interventions, he has to partake of those meaningfully. It is important for society and him that he is given certain interventions that will change him,” he said.

Detective Superintendent Declan Daly addresses the media at Dublin Circuit Court. Pic: Collins Courts
Detective Superintendent Declan Daly addresses the media at Dublin Circuit Court. Pic: Collins Courts

Outside court, Detective Superintendent Declan Daly said this case was a “timely reminder of the dangers that can occur on the internet and the need for parents to be vigilant of their children’s internet use”.

He said it was “exceptionally dangerous” for children to share images online, and that children should never agree to meet any person on the internet.

He said if images were shared already, gardaí recommended that children should not share any more images, stop all communication and tell a parent or an appropriate adult.

“They should preserve the evidence and not delete anything and they should report the matter to gardaí,” he said.

Lawyers for Horan told the court that his father’s home in Clondalkin was attacked on Monday night, with the front door and windows smashed.

==========How the gardaí caught him

It was the authorities in America who first contacted the gardaí about a Gmail account being used to share child porn. Investigators tracked the 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, gardaí discovered thousands of images and videos of child porn. Some of these involved babies.

Horan also engaged in graphic text exchanges with the child users. He would describe violent sexual acts to them.

Detective Garda David Connolly told Lorcan Staines, prosecuting, that 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 has a nine-year-old daughter.

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

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

Det Gda Connolly agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that his client had a closed existence of 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. 

He said that a psychological report stated that the “fixated interests of people on the autism spectrum often function as a way of reducing stress”. He added that there were no other interests in Horan’s life.

He said Horan lived a dingy existence and that, since completing his Leaving Cert in 2009, he had done nothing except be at home.


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