Swim coach charged with sexual exploitation of children

Swim coach charged with sexual exploitation of children

A 31-year-old swimming coach has appeared in court charged with the sexual exploitation of children over a six-month period last year and this year.

Matthew Coward, with an address at Shantalla Drive in Santry in Dublin, has been charged with 12 offenses under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, including the production and possession of child pornography.

The offenses are alleged to have occurred between September 2021 and February 2022.

He was granted free legal aid and requested on bail to appear again at Blanchardstown District Court in September.

Detectives from Dublin brought Mr Coward to the Dublin District Court this morning charged with 12 offences.

The swimming coach is accused of three counts of sexual exploitation of children, seven counts of producing child pornography, including videos, and three counts of possession of child pornography.

The charges have been preferred under sections 3, 5 and 6 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 and are alleged to have occurred at a swimming pool and another location in Dublin.

The offenses are alleged to have occurred between 1 September 2021 and 17 February 2022.

Mr Coward leaving the Central Criminal Court today

Sergeant Shane Behan of the Divisional Protective Services Bureau gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution this afternoon.

He told the court that he arrested Mr Coward at his home at 6.55am today and brought him to Finglas Garda Station, where he was charged with the offences.

Mr Coward made no reply under caution and was handed a true copy of the charges.

There was no garda objection to bail under certain conditions, including that the accused live at the address on the charge sheet, sign on at Santry Garda Station and stay away from the location where the offenses are alleged to have occurred.

Mr Coward must also refrain from engaging in any coaching roles or activities and must not have any contact directly or indirectly with any witnesses in the case.

Judge Joanne Carroll stressed that this included electronic and online contact, such as through Facebook.

The court was told that Mr Coward has already surrendered his passport and provided a mobile phone number where he can be contacted by gardaí.

Sergeant Behan also told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed trial on indictment in this case, which means it is to be sent forward to the higher Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Carroll granted Mr Coward free legal aid after a statement of means was handed in.

He recommended him on bail to appear again for service of the book of evidence at Blanchardstown District Court on 13 September.


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