Paul Mahoney: Londonderry piracy scammer sentenced to prison
A Londonderry man who ran an internet piracy scam from his bedroom has been sentenced to four years, two of which will be spent in prison.
Paul Mahoney, 29, from Carnhill in Derry, had pleaded guilty to a number of offences.
He made almost £300,000 through advertising revenue generated from illegal sites.
These offered access to the latest films and television shows, many before general release.
Mahoney, who is partially-blind, operated the online racket for six years. In one instance, more than one million films were illegally streamed over a period of six months.
A lawyer described the money involved in his sophisticated fraud as "quite staggering".
During this period he claimed more than £12,000 in state benefits. Almost £82,400 was also found hidden at the home he shared with his parents.
The judge described Mahoney's operation as cunning, clever and complex and added that Londonderry Crown Court had to impose the sentence to show that offending of this nature did not go unpunished.
The investigation against Mahoney was led by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) in conjunction with the PSNI.
The director general of Fact, Kieron Sharp, welcomed the judgement.
"Financially, it had the potential for causing great loss to the film and television industries in the UK," he said,
"This is about the people who work within those industries, who make those films, who need the funding to be able to make film and television programmes in the future.
"The message it sends out is that it's not a victimless crime. When people take films for free, somebody is suffering somewhere and also that if you are going to make money out of it and cause such loss, you will pay the penalty and go to prison."