Manchester court sinks pirate decoder seller with big fine and potential 7-year jail term

September 14 – Manchester Crown Court has made a significant anti-piracy statement, handing down a big fine and further prison sentence to an illegal decider supplier that gave access to Sky Sports pay TV coverage and in particular live Premier League matches.

Michael Hornung, 38, was first sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment in June 2022 for selling and advertising unauthorised decoders for use in fraud over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017.

Homung who is still at large but currently believed to is currently still at large and is believed to be living in Northern Cyprus, was ordered in his absence to pay £258,642.95 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Hornung has three months to pay the fine or face an additional three years’ being added to his sentence.

FACT is a UK intellectual property protection organisation working with sports rights holders and broadcast partners. Its investigation began June 2014 with a test purchase of an illegal decoder which was found tto enable to access hundreds of channels from Virgin’s cable subscription service, including Sky Sports, without any payment being made.

Hornung was arrested in February 2017 and was charged with various offenses including fraud but later absconded from the UK before he was sentenced.

FACT Chief Executive Kieron Sharp said: “Today’s confiscation order makes clear the consequences of providing illegal streaming services, a serious criminal offence which in this case has led to a substantial prison sentence and now severe financial penalties.

“We are pleased the court have recognised the seriousness of piracy-related crime and we thank Greater Manchester Police for their support and assistance during the course of a complex investigation.

“The money recovered will go back to public bodies, including law enforcement agencies, which assists them in their efforts to bring criminals to justice”.

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