Vigilantes Hit Home of Child Porn Accused
Evening Herald September 14 2009 by Andrew Phelan
VIGILANTES have attacked the home of a Dublin man accused of possession of child pornography, after they learned of the allegations against him.
A mob descended on the man's home after finding out he had been charged with accessing hundreds of images.
Slogans were daubed on his front door and gardai were called out after a loud, late-night disturbance.
Neighbours have spoken of their terror at the actions of the vigilantes and anger at the gardai for not warning them of the allegations.
The man is facing a single charge under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act and no allegation against him has yet been proven.
One young mother, who lives nearby, said she was afraid the vandals would mistakenly turn on her home.
She said she felt neighbours had "no rights" when it came to being informed about allegations of child pornography.
"The trouble kicked off last night", she told the Herald. "His door has been defaced, and we had the guards out. I'm terrified now in case someone comes down here and puts a brick through my window."
"The gardai won't give me any information. We have no rights. I can understand they don't want vigilante-type activity, but we have a right to know".
She added that, despite the trouble, she was glad the allegations against her neighbour were now out in the open.
Ireland's anti-child pornography legislation is among the most stringent in the world. Under the Act, the possession, distribution, importation and exportation or sale of all forms of child pornography are offences with penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment.
Possession alone can be punishable by sentences of up to five years in jail.
Meanwhile, reports from the public regarding child pornography and other illegal websites fell by almost a quarter last year, with internet watchdogs claiming the war was being won against criminal online content.
Figures in the hotline.ie annual report showed 1,966 reports on suspect material were made last year by Irish internet users -- a decrease of 24pc on the figures for the previous year. Of those, 1,275 were found to be actionable.