By Declan Brennan
A man was caught trying to meet a child for sex after replying to a fake child’s profile on an adult dating website, a court has heard.
In May 2018, Ioan Ovidiu (54) initiated contact with a person identified as an 18 year old woman on the “Fastmeet” dating site.
The actual person behind this fake profile was a member of a volunteer group whose stated purpose was to locate online predators grooming underage children, Detective Garda Jean McDonnell told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
She said volunteers would set up fake accounts to act as “decoy children”.
In order to do this, the person behind the fake profile told Ovidiu that she was actually a 14 year old girl and sent a head and shoulders photograph of a teenager to him to back this up.
Despite this information, Ovidiu continued to communicate with the profile.
Seamus Clarke SC, defending, described this as a type of entrapment. Judge Martin Nolan replied that while “temptation” had been put in the defendant’s way, he should have stopped communicating when he was told the profile belonged to a child.
Instead, Ovidiu went on to ask the ‘child’ to send sexually explicit images to him and sent over explicit pictures and video footage of his own penis.
He then asked to meet for sexual activity and an arrangement was made to meet at a supermarket in Mulhuddart, Dublin on May 27.
The court heard that when Ovidiu went to the meeting point, he was confronted by an “extremely hostile crowd”.
Some members of the crowd restrained Ovidiu while others videotaped the confrontation and live-streamed it to social media.
They also contacted gardaí and the court heard gardaí brought Ovidiu to a garda station “for his own safety”.
Ovidiu co-operated with gardaí and handed over his phone.
A forensic analysis of the phone uncovered an image of a naked male adult touching the genital of a female child estimated to be aged around nine years old.
Ovidiu, of no fixed abode, subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography at Blakestown Way, Mullhuddart on May 27.
He also admitted attempting to communicate with a child in order to facilitate sexual exploitation of the child on dates between May 20 and 27, 2018.
Judge Nolan said that Ovidiu began communicating with the profile on the basis that they were an adult.
He said he went on to arrange to meet with a “putative 14 year old to engage in sexual activity”.
He said that there was no child involved and no sexual activity whatsoever took place but noted that sexual exploitation of a child is a very serious offence and this was an attempt to carry out that offence.
He said that Ovidiu has no other convictions and is “suitably remorseful for his actions”. He imposed an 18 month prison term which he backdated to March 23 this year, when Ovidiu first went into custody.