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illegal streaming

Meath man to be sentenced next week for providing illegal television access via ‘dodgy boxes’

The court heard that the alarm was raised after a brand protection company in the UK became concerned that copyright material was being infringed.

A COUNTY MEATH man who set up two companies providing illegal access to television content including Sky Sports and Motion Pictures is to be sentenced next week.

At a hearing today, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Michael McGrane (47) sold customers unauthorised access to premium TV content via streaming and altered set-top boxes.

McGrane, of Johnswood Drive, Ashbourne, pleaded guilty to two counts of selling a protection-defeating device and one count of possessing a protection-defeating device on dates between September 2017 and September 2018.

He also admitted to the unlawful use of a computer on dates between March and September, 2018 as the mechanism by which the offences were committed.

The court heard that the alarm was raised after a brand protection company in the UK became concerned that copyright material was being infringed.

They made a number of test purchases to two companies set up by McGrane, called StreamSupreme and JarvisBox.

Garda Alan Gordon told Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, that JarvisBox supplied the hardware or physical box to customers, while StreamSupreme facilitated the illicit streaming.

Gardaí set up Operation Fleming to investigate, after they were alerted that customers buying boxes and streaming access were paying into Irish PayPal accounts.

In March 2018, a test purchase was made from StreamSupreme of a 12-month subscription service costing £140 sterling, affording the end user access to most of Sky’s streaming content, BBC and Motion Motion Pictures in the US.

This compares to Sky’s monthly subscription of £47.

Several more test purchases were made, including an illicit Android box ordered from and posted from a post office in Ashbourne, County Meath.

CCTV footage obtained from the post office identified McGrane’s wife posting the box, and paying for postage with a card linked to her PayPal account and the accused’s Permanent TSB account.

McGrane’s home was searched under warrant in June 2018 and gardaí seized four laptops, two mobile phones, a number of illicit boxes and financial documents.

McGrane was arrested and as it emerged that his wife had not been involved in the operations, charges against her were dropped.

Garda Gordon said JarvisBox was set up in 2015 and made a turnover of €145,795 over a three-year period, between box sales and subscriptions.

A second man involved in the software side of the enterprises, Ken Costello (50) of Leighlin Rd, Crumlin, Dublin, was previously sentenced to 15 months fully suspended for his role in the offences.

Costello had pleaded guilty to infringing a copyright without the consent of the owner at a location in County Dublin on a date between March and September, 2022.

He also admitted dishonestly operating a computer with the intention of making a gain at his address during the same period.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said that between them, McGrane and Costello only recuperated 40 per cent of the turnover made by StreamSupreme and JarvisBox, and that the remainder of the money went to various other people’s PayPal accounts.

Counsel for the defence also said that any remaining profits were divided 50/50 between McGrane and Costello, so that McGrane would have received just over €29,000 per year over the three years.

Mr McGinn submitted a large amount of testimonials which he said spoke universally of McGrane as a fine, trustworthy, well-regarded and responsible member of society and an upstanding member of the community.

Counsel said the offending was out of character for McGrane, who worked for the same company all his life from the age of 18 and had reached the position of assistant manager.

The court heard McGrane submitted a short letter himself explaining that his parents had died when he was very young and he had a disproportionate sense of responsibility to do well for his family.

Mr McGinn said his client felt at the time of the offences that what he was doing was not illegal, but that he now recognises that it was and that he should not have been involved in this activity.

McGrane has no previous convictions and cooperated with gardaí throughout their investigations, the court heard.

Judge Orla Crowe adjourned the matter for sentencing until 13 October.

Jessica Magee and David O'Sullivan