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From his home in Longford, Ireland, 51-year-old Sylvio Rose downloaded some of the worst pictures and videos of child abuse that both the case investigator and judge had ever seen. The man download nearly 50,000 pictures and videos of boys and girls under the age of 17. He found many of them on the darknet and admitted sharing them on the darknet as well. Sylvio pleaded guilty to distributing ‘child pornography’ at his March hearing before Judge Keenan Johnson.
According to Counselor for the State John Hayden, the investigation began years ago when European authorities contacted the Gardaí about an iCloud server in Germany that stored thousands of images depicting child abuse in some of the most depraved forms seen by investigators. Hayden likely referred to Europol in his statement about the “European authorities.” As anyone following Europol-related news would know, they have started cracking down on the sharing of child abuse content on both the darknet and clearnet.
This includes content on private cloud storage like Apple’s cloud backup and storage service iCloud or Google Photos. The prosecution never said how European authorities discovered the content on Sylvio’s iCloud account. They did, however, tell the Gardaí that the I.P. address of the person who had accessed the server belonged to someone in Longford, Ireland. The Gardaí received that information and quickly began their own investigation. They discovered that the I.P. address belonged to Sylvio Rose’s house.
Detective Garda Padraig Fahy, one of the officers who executed a search warrant at Rose’s home, spoke to the court about the investigation. He said that when officers knocked on the door, Rose opened it and told officers he was expecting them to show up at his house. “Mr Rose brought us to his office and showed us the external hard drives; he was fully cooperative,” Detective Garda Fahy explained. Rose gave officers statements that the prosecution used in court. “He also acknowledged that he had swapped some of the images that he had stored – he used a computer program that allowed him to share images with other users,” the detective explained.
The Gardai expected pictures and videos of child abuse on Rose’s computers. However, the number of pictures and videos surprised them. They found 11,019 pictures of adults sexually abusing children. They found another 39,190 pictures of children in either no clothes or barely clothed at all. They also found 847 videos of children being molested by adults and 900 videos of children without clothing.
According to the detective, Rose shared the videos and pictures on the darknet. He had the Tor Browser on his computer, Gardai investigators discovered. Rose also had file sharing software that he admitted he had used to distribute the content to other pedophiles he had met on the internet. The detective expressed his disgust several times throughout his testimony. “The images indicate that there were children as young as three years of age being sexually abused,” he said. “Some of the images showed a child being abused by a woman – it can’t get any worse than what we saw.”
Detective Garda Paul Fitzpatrick of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau had a similar testimony and attested to the severity of the media files Rose had obsessively stored on hard drives in his house. “These particular images are as bad as they can get,” he said. They are ”some of the worst images that I have seen in my nine years working in this area.”
Judge Johnson said the case was the worst he had seen. He scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 31.