Belfast Telegraph

Fake sex images man McClure loses appeal against harassment jail term

By Nevin Farrell

A man who super-imposed the faces of two women onto sexually explicit photographs and then uploaded them to internet has been jailed for three months after his appeal failed.

Jonathan McClure had previously been sentenced at Coleraine Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to three charges of harassment on dates between 2011 and 2015.

A prosecutor said the 32-year-old, of Bendooragh Road in Ballymoney, had gone to school with one of the women and knew the other as a friend of a friend.

One of the images he used was taken when one of the victims was just 16.

District Judge Liam McNally said it was the worst case he had ever seen of the "manipulation" of social media.

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty added McClure was living in an "alternative reality".

The defendant, who had a clear criminal record, was previously sentenced to jail and ordered to pay each of the women £1,000. A two-year harassment order was also put in place.

His appeal was dismissed and the punishment confirmed during a hearing at Antrim County Court.

Previous courts were told the defendant had emailed a leading figure in the local beauty industry, pretending to be from a modelling agency.

However, when the beauty industry insider checked the website mentioned, she found photos of a sexual nature and the police were called.

The prosecutor said McClure had taken images of the faces of the two victims and placed them on images of bodies in sexually explicit positions. The court was told that a fake Facebook profile was also set up in the name of one of the victims, which caused the woman "great stress and anxiety".

After police seized the defendant's computer, he admitted setting up a fake website and uploading images of the women's faces, although he denied altering the photographs.

The prosecutor said McClure claimed he did not know one of the images was taken when one of the victims was 16.

Defence lawyer Mr Rafferty said nothing he would say would seek to diminish the obvious anguish of the women.

"This was a terrible thing to happen to anybody," he stressed.

Mr Rafferty added it was clear the defendant had borne the victims no ill will, which Judge McNally said made the offending "more insidious".

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