Updated: 06/02/18 : 06:12:05
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This


Child porn raids in 12 counties seize thousands of images

Tens of thousands of child abuse images have been seized during raids on 31 homes across Ireland, Gardaí have said.

No arrests have been made.

The searches were carried out in 12 counties, mostly in Munster and Leinster, over the past three days as part of an investigation into the possession and distribution of images of abuse.

There will be at least three other similar nationwide operations against suspected child porn users in Ireland this year, Gardaí warned.

Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll pictured said confiscated material would be examined by specialist officers and decisions would subsequently be taken on arrests.

"There are tens of thousands of images involved in what we have seized," Mr O'Driscoll said.

"Our ambition would be to ensure that any arrest we make will be timed so as to maximise the possibility of a successful outcome to any prosecution that might ensue."

None of the victims of child abuse in the images are believed to be Irish.

The raids were carried out as part of Operation Ketch, set up to target those possessing and distributing child exploitation material.

Computers, phones, laptops and other equipment were seized.

The raids were planned as part of wider Garda investigations and are understood to have been supported by law enforcement agencies overseas, including the US and Canada.

The raids took place about a week after Dubliner Matthew Horan, 26, was jailed for more than seven years after using social media and other web platforms, including anonymous messaging services, to coerce young girls to send explicit images.

He targeted six children in Ireland and nine unknown users around the world.

He had thousands of images on computers.

There has also been increased publicity around vigilante groups pursuing suspected paedophiles and those attempting to groom children online.

Gardaí appealed for awareness of child online safety and for the public not to take the law into their own hands.

Mr O'Driscoll said: "An Garda Siochana is the law enforcement agency in the state and for anybody else to go about trying to enforce the law, it's fraught with danger.

"There's a danger that people who might otherwise be convicted with offences may not end up in such a scenario and may go free because of the way in which the particular information has been handled."

Tuesday is Internet Safety Day across the EU and Detective Superintendent Declan Daly said parents and children need to be aware of protection measures.

"If a request for images is received, don't send any images, don't send any more images," Mr Daly said.

"Tell a parent or adult, don't delete anything, preserve the communication, block the communication and tell An Garda Siochana."

Mr Daly added that the Garda operation should be a cause of concern to those involved in child abuse.

"It should also serve as a stark warning to those who possess, distribute and/or produce such imagery, that your homes will be searched, that your sexual interest in children will be exposed, and ultimately result in possible prosecution or conviction," Mr Daly said.