Jail term in Sky piracy case
September 28, 2023
By Colin Mann
Two men have been sentenced at Belfast Crown Court following an investigation by detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, supported by investigators from Sky, into the illegal sale of devices used for provision of pirated TV channels, and the supply of streaming services (IPTV).
The operation, which took place between September 2018 and January 2019, focused on a Belfast-based business operated by Padraig McVicker and Gary Doherty.
At an earlier court appearance McVicker and Doherty both entered guilty pleas to offences a number of offences including Selling, Distributing Or Letting For Hire Or Exposing For Sale Or Hire An Unauthorised Decoder, contrary to Section 297A(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
McVicker also pled guilty to Possession Of Apparatus For Dishonestly Obtaining Electronic Services, contrary to Section 126(1) of the Communications Act 2003 and Possessing Criminal Property, contrary to section 329 (1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Doherty was sentenced to 175 hours community service whilst McVicker was sentenced to eight months in custody and a further eight on licence with respect to the offence of Selling, Distributing Or Letting For Hire Or Exposing For Sale Or Hire An Unauthorised Decoder, with another six months in custody for Possession Of Apparatus For Dishonestly Obtaining Electronic Services and Possessing Criminal Property, both to be served concurrently.
“IPTV devices are legal when used to view free or legitimate paid-for subscription services and channels, but once adapted or reconfigured to stream content without the appropriate licenses and consent of creators, they become illegal,” warned Detective Chief Inspector Tom Phillips, Police Service Lead on Intellectual Property Crime.
“People think these are victimless crimes but often behind these services are international organised crime gangs, who engage in the most serious of offences. Users and subscribers of illegal services should also be aware that they too are committing an offence for which they can be prosecuted.”
“We were pleased to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland in taking this action, both to prevent access to stolen Sky content and also to protect consumers from the real risks of accessing content in this way,” commented Matt Hibbert, Sky’s Director of Anti-Piracy, UK and Ireland.
“The assistance of the Sky investigators in this instance was invaluable to the criminal investigation conducted by police, both in terms of providing information and examination of devices,” added DCI Phillips. “The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to working with our partners to take action against those who use and supply illegal streaming services and the wider criminality this activity supports.”