A Dublin man who possessed thousands of child pornography 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 (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 was an exchange
Circuit Criminal Court heard Horan would use Kik to share child porn images and videos with unidentified users around the world, most of whom claimed to be young teenagers.
Threat to Share Images
He threatened to share an 11-year-old girl’s nude images to her social media accounts if she didn’t send him further graphic photos.
In the text exchange between them, this girl repeatedly told Horan she would kill herself.
He continued to coerce her to send more images, the court heard.
Horan pleaded guilty to a count each of sexually exploiting two girls within
the State on dates between April 1st and November 23rd, 2014.
He pleaded guilty to two more counts of sexually exploiting a child and one count of distributing child pornography on dates in 2015. He further pleaded guilty
to possessing child porn at his address on July 11th, 2015.
He pleaded guilty to three further counts of sexually exploiting female children through Snapchat and Instagram in the State on dates between May 21st, 2015 and July 7th, 2016.
He also pleaded guilty to possessing child porn on a Sony mobile phone at his home on July 7th, 2016. He
has no previous convictions.
Judge Nolan ... 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 knew what he was doing was
wrong. He understood the damage and yet he didn’t stop what he was doing,” he said.
[All text in italics is copied from The Irish Times
online Articles. Colouring of text and headings was added by me, ICOB.]
LET US USE THE ABOVE TO
LEARN AND TEACH
The above are edited elements
of the coverage of the trial which I hope would be of general use to children, young people, and the adults in their lives, as an introduction to the topic of staying safe online, on Tablets, Smartphones and other devices.
I suggest that all parents, guardians, and carers (PGCs), and any adults who play a large part in children's, youngsters' and
young adults' lives read ALL the various articles listed in this Post. If a child or young teenager has heard of the case, and wants to know more, reading through the articles
together would be useful for both the adult and the child or young person.
I suggest the adult should read through first, checking the meanings of any technical terms, or any
everyday terms that had never seemed so scary previously.
The adult would feel more confident about being able to answer possible questions. Once armed with information, I believe the PGCs, or significant adults, should start a conversation
at a quiet, relaxed time, about the court case, asking if the youngster has heard anything about it.
It may have been huge in Ireland, but people
overseas will be unaware of this court case, and the public's memory fades.
While bearing in mind that this case focused on young girls, and that boys are equally at risk, I suggest putting these horrible experiences to a positive use, as the basis for study by families,
classes, and all students, to check that everyone knows what to look out for, and what to do if there is a fear that personal information has passed to another.
The situation of the young girls would bring both empathy and determination
out in children, youngsters, and young people. No-one would want to go through their experiences, and they are easy to imagine.
I believe having prepared a child by saying what you are about to read with him
or her is upsetting, but very important to know about - the adult should just jump in, and trust to his or her relationship with the child, and that any worried questions shall be answered.
Take your time. Take opportunities to
ask if he or she understands what has happened so far. It doesn't have to be done all in one evening - it's more important that all the information available and required is
ready to answer questions over weeks and maybe months. That would be a very positive sign. This is a very big subject, and realisation will hit the young in sudden moments, and after consideration. Those
are the times when question might be formulating to be asked.
to stay alert, and ask if there are any questions or suggestions the child or young person wants to put.
It's easy to become complacent, thinking one knows what's going on.
This story brings out all the nurturing and fear in any adult.
Don't worry If something comes up that you, the adult, hasn't checked - you should just say straight out, that ~
"I don't understand that, but we'll find out the meaning. We're both learning a good deal of new and really important information because of the bravery of those girls - and pretending
we know something when we don't, is not good for either of us. Information is Power!"
It's a truly shocking case, and sometimes
we need a jolt to get motivated.
THE DEVICES WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
To help us be clear what devices we need to consider in relation to our children's and young people's welfare, I list below the devices included in The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australian Child Health Poll of 21 June 2017. The Poll is covered in detail below.
A screen-based device is defined as a television, computer, laptop, gaming console, iPhone, Smartphone, iPad and other Tablet.
Given details reported during his court case of the devices and apps used by Matthew Horan, I'm adding Skype, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, and mobile / cell phones to the list, hoping to give
as broad a sweep of devices and software as I can.
Any and all suggestions and information would be very welcome.
Grainne Long, Chief Executive
of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), said parents must set boundaries and structures for their children’s internet use. She also said if they (the parents) were uncertain about the technology being used, they should call into stores where staff can advise them.
I believe Ms Long's is
an excellent suggestion.
We could expand it to ringing the supplier(s) of our devices, and arranging to go into the shop(s) with the whole family's devices, with everyone included - all the children, youngsters, young adults, and the PGCs in the house, their help could bring a great deal
The technicians in the shop would know where all the switches for turning off inappropriate films, music videos, and given the current zeitgeist they would
be keen to make suggestions. Most assistants working in these shops are young people, and they are happy to share their information, and to help adults learn how
to be in charge of the family's devices.
They could show apps that are age inappropriate or actually adult material. I know I'd be very relieved to be helped out by someone working in an electronic
goods shop, or a shop supplying all kinds of phones. We are creatures of habit, and are inclined to stick to the same shop(s) if it has / they have worked out well previously.
Further Garda quotes and advice regarding the Horan case can be found near the end of this Post.
PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR THEIR CHILDREN'S INTERNET USE,
[Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children]
GRAINNE LONG SAYS ~
PARENTS MUST SET BOUNDARIES AND STRUCTURES FOR INTERNET USE
Reporter: Mark Hilliard
Children’s advocates have stressed the need for parents to
monitor their children’s internet use and establish an environment in which young people can seek help if they are approached by predators.
Grainne Long, Chief Executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), said parents must set boundaries and
structures for their children’s internet use.
need to look at the amount of time their children are online, what age they start going online and what they are watching,” she told RTÉ’s 'News at One'.
Encouraging parents to sit down and talk through the issues with their children, she said if they were uncertain about the technology being used, they
should call into stores where staff can advise them.
key point is this is a solvable problem,” she said.
Áine Lynch, Chief Executive of the National Parents Council primary, said it is difficult for parents to keep up with different apps and online platforms but focusing
on these individually is not necessarily the answer.
The threat of adults seeking to abuse vulnerable children has existed since before technology, she said, and “we need to take the learning from that [and
apply it] to the online life of the child as well”.
“What will keep children safe is to empower them to do things - one of the things that is always common is that children haven’t been able
to tell anyone about it”, she told The Irish Times.
[All text in italics is copied from The Irish Times online Articles. Any colouring
and underlining of text and headings, and enlarging of headlines were added by me, ICOB.]