The UK Cinema Association has welcomed the custodial sentence handed down to a prolific film thief in Northern Ireland.

Paul Mahoney, 26, was convicted at Londonderry Crown Court last month of conspiracy to defraud the film industry through the establishment on websites allowing access to stolen films, an activity which it was estimated could have lost the industry a much as £120 million in income. Mahoney himself was estimated to have earned at least £300,000 through related advertising and other income.

Sentencing him to four years in prison yesterday, the judge in the case 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 length of the sentence imposed has been welcomed by the UK Cinema Association, with Chief Executive Phil Clapp commenting:

“The industry has for a long time been working to convince those working in the criminal justice system of the seriousness of film theft, and the damage it does to the livelihoods of everyone working in our sector. The severity of the sentence handed down in this case is a vindication of that approach, and a welcome reward of all the hard work that FACT and PSNI colleagues devoted to bringing this case before the courts.”

More details on the case can be found here.