A man has pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Sex Offenders Act by logging onto the online dating app Tinder using a false name and failing to declare a change of address.
Ian Horgan (38) of no fixed address and formerly of The Hermitage, Macroom, Co Cork admitted at Macroom District Court that he had used the dating site under the false name “Cian” in May 2001.
Mr Horgan also admitted failing to notify gardaí of a change of address.
Mr Horgan had previously told the court that he had lost the mobile phone he used to set up the Tinder account and investigations were launched to obtain data from this account through the US Justice Department.
Giving evidence, Sgt Trish O’Sullivan told Judge James McNulty that Mr Horgan admitted setting up the Tinder account when he was interviewed by gardaí on May 24 this year. He maintained that the use of the name “Cian” for his profile on the dating site was a simple typo and not intended to hide his identity. The court also heard that the profile set up by Mr Horgan had his picture on it.
Sgt O’Sullivan said that under the terms of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 Mr Horgan was subject to a curfew and was required to inform gardaí of any change of address within seven days. She said that gardaí had called to the address in Macroom given by Mr Horgan three times in April 2022 and on each occasion Mr Horgan was not present. On each occasion, Mr Horgan’s parents said that they did not know where he was and had not seen him for some time.
Mr Horgan’s solicitor Sean Cahill said that his client had cooperated with gardaí throughout the investigation and had always maintained that the use of the name “Cian” on the Tinder profile was done in error. He added that Mr Horgan had spent almost his entire adult life in prison and the matters before the court did not harm anybody other than himself.
Judge McNulty said that the principal mitigating factor in Mr Horgan’s favour was his guilty plea but he added that in light of Mr Horgan’s previous convictions it was “one of the burdens he carries” to face significant scrutiny when he came before the courts.
Judge McNulty said: “The most serious aspect of this is that some innocent man or woman could be viewing the Tinder dating website and might have been misled as to the reality of the person they were seeing on the screen.”
Judge McNulty said that on both counts only a custodial sentence would be appropriate and he convicted Mr Horgan and sentenced him to two consecutive six-month terms in prison.
He added that if he wished to appeal he would require two sureties of €15,000 each who would have to provide a minimum of €5,000 cash each and would have to be vetted by gardaí in advance.