One of the victims, who was 10 years old when Matthew Horan exploited her, told the court that she thought chatting online was safe and was “like making a new friend”.
“It wasn’t. It made me feel ashamed, scared, and alone,” she said.
She said she felt sad and angry about the exploitation, but she wanted to prevent it happening to anybody else.
“I felt scared, because I told him where I had lived. I was afraid he was going to come and get me,” she said, in a victim impact statement read out in court yesterday.
On Monday, the father of one of the then nine-year-old girls made a victim impact statement on her behalf, describing how she was targeted by an online predator, whom she thought was a child her own age.
The father said his daughter had bought her Samsung phone with her Communion money to watch cartoons, dancing, and singing online. He said it came as an “absolute shock”, when gardaí contacted him, and he could never have dreamt of the purpose for the subsequent meeting with officers.
He said he was shown an image of his daughter and felt like his home “had been invaded and a burglary had taken place”. The man said he also felt guilty, because he had failed to protect his child.
He said he was upset and uncomfortable, because, once something was out there, on the internet, it could never be erased.
“This makes us sick to the pits of our stomachs,” the father said in the victim impact statement.
He added that the events would only become clearer for his daughter when she was older.
The other little girl’s mother submitted a victim impact report on her behalf, in which she described how her child had gotten the phone for a similar purpose, to watch cartoons and singing online.
The woman said when she found out her daughter had been targeted by an online predator, pretending to be a child, “my body started to shake, my blood started to boil”.
The mother said she felt bad that she had failed to protect her child and that she would never get over what had happened.
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