Man 'blackmailed schoolboy through Facebook into sending photo of his privates', court hears
A man allegedly blackmailed a schoolboy he contacted through Facebook into sending a photo of his privates, a court heard today.
Police also claimed Ciaran McAuley tried to get the 13-year-old to meet him at a north Belfast park.
The 26-year-old accused faces a total of six charges over the alleged online campaign, including possessing an indecent image of a child and encouraging the boy to distribute the picture.
He is also accused of making demands with menaces, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and improper use of public electronic communications to send a grossly offensive message.
McAuley, with a hostel address at Victoria Street in the city, was refused bail due to the risk of re-offending.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard the alleged victim's parents discovered him sobbing uncontrollably in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
A detective sergeant said: "He had been threatened online through Facebook and ended up sending a picture of his privates."
His mother told police she had spotted messages and then went online posing as the boy to make further contact.
It was claimed that attempts were then made to get her son to meet at the Waterworks park.
The court heard how the teenager claimed he was first contacted through social media two weeks ago.
During online chats repeated efforts were made to get him to send a naked photo, according to police.
The detective added: "After two weeks of pestering the victim asked if the male would leave him alone if he sent a photograph.
"The male said if he didn't send a photo of his privates he would use another picture from the internet and say it was his anyway."
McAuley shook his head in the dock as the case against him was set out.
He denies all of the offences, including police claims that he sent the boy a picture of himself standing in front of a mirror.
No phone was found on him when officers carried out a search at his flat.
But an iPhone box and notebook with the child's name in it was said to have been recovered.
According to the detective he replied after caution: "I don't feel like going to the police station today."
A defence lawyer told the court McAuley denies any conversation with the boy or sending any photographs.
But refusing bail, District Judge George Conner said he could not risk releasing the accused.
"Blackmail cases take a lot of strength to come forward to the police," he added.
"This child needs to know that the person he says has done this is in custody."
McAuley was remanded in custody to appear again on May 21.
As he was being led from the dock he shouted out: "Idiot."