Man caught with child porn from German paedophile ring

April 22, 2021

A Co Donegal man who downloaded dozens of pictures and movies from a German-based paedophile ring has appeared in court.

Computer science student and electrician Martin Ferris was caught by Gardai who simultaneously raided his home in Ballyshannon and a rented flat in Letterkenny.

Gardai at the Paedophile Investigation Unit had received information from their colleagues at the European Police Agency Interpol who tracked down Ferris through his IP address.

Detectives recovered a large stash of items on Ferris’ computers and hard-drives.

The haul included 152 images and 143 movies all containing explicit material of children aged from 4 years to 14 years involved in various sexual acts.

On the day of the searches, 32-year-old Ferris came clean to Gardai straight away saying he would “save them the hassle” of looking for child pornography on his laptops.

Detective Garda John Rooney said Ferris supplied them with passwords and was very cooperative with their investigation.

Ferris, of St Benildus Avenue in Ballyshannon, told Letterkenny Circuit Court that he always suffered from social anxiety.

“I have always been socially awkward and backwards,” he said.

Since being caught with the child pornography, Ferris has undergone counselling and now recognized the fact that this was not a victimless crime.

He had brought €2,500 to court which he had saved up and wanted to offer this as some compensation to a children’s charity for what he had done.

He added “I have seen my behaviour and I have seen that this is not a victimless crime and there had to be accountability and I can give something back,” he said.

The court was told that Ferris was a hard-working man who was known in his hometown and had been involved working at festivals and concerts.

He had not come to the attention of Gardai since he was caught with the material.

His family were aware of his situation but they had supported him although he admitted that a small number of people had shunned him following publicity surrounding his case.

His barrister Mr Peter Nolan, instructed by solicitor Rory O’Brien said his client had no previous convictions, came from a stable family, had a trade as an electrician to enter and had engaged fully in a programme of counselling.

He said that while the crimes were appalling, he suggested it was on the lower end of the scale with regard to the volume seen in other cases before the courts.

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case for final sentencing until next Tuesday.

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