TWO men have been sentenced following an investigation into the illegal sale of devices used to access pirated TV channels and the supply of streaming services.
Padraig McVicker, 44, and Gary Doherty, 27, were sentenced at Belfast Crown Court this week following an investigation by PSNI detectives, supported by investigators from Sky.
At an earlier court hearing, McVicker, of Stanhope Street in Belfast, and Doherty, of Corrina Drive in Dunmurry, had pleaded guilty to several offences, including selling, distributing or letting for hire or exposing for sale or hire an unauthorised decoder.
McVicker also pled guilty to possession of apparatus for dishonestly obtaining electronic services and possessing criminal property.
The investigation, which took place between September 2018 and January 2019, focused on a Belfast-based business operated by the pair.
On September 26, 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.
He was sentenced to another six months in custody for possession of apparatus for dishonestly obtaining electronic services and possessing criminal property.
Both sentences are to be served concurrently.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Phillips, the PSNI’s lead on Intellectual Property Crime, said: “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.
“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.”
Matt Hibbert, Sky’s Director of Anti-Piracy, UK and Ireland, said: “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.”
DCI Phillips added: "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.
“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.”