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Man guilty of putting explicit snaps of former pole-dancing ex-partner on social media site

By Alan Erwin

Published 07/09/2016

Darren McGowan-Gormley leaving Belfast Laganside Courts yesterday
Darren McGowan-Gormley leaving Belfast Laganside Courts yesterday

A man has been convicted of posting private sexual photos of his former pole-dancing ex-girlfriend on Facebook.

In one of the first successful revenge porn prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Darren McGowan-Gormley was yesterday held to have put the images on social media without consent.

The 43-year-old was also found guilty of assaulting the woman by grabbing her by the throat during a confrontation after their 14-month relationship ended.

McGowan-Gormley, with an address at Trasna Way in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, will be sentenced next month.

He had fought the case by claiming to believe his former partner had already distributed the pictures in a calendar venture.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard the couple split in June amid angry accusations that the victim was interested in another woman whose name she said in her sleep.

She alleged that McGowan-Gormley grabbed and pushed her against gates when she went to his apartment in the city to collect belongings.

Later that evening, she discovered that two sexual pictures had been posted on Facebook, with a reference to her work and giving a phone number.

"I felt sick, this was such a concern to me," she said. "I know how the internet works. It just takes one person to put that photograph on and it's all over the place."

She told the court the images were taken six or seven years ago when she was considering making a calendar to sell commercially.

Although she never went through with the business idea, she sent the privately-stored images to McGowan-Gormley after they started seeing each other.

"It's just what you do when you're in a relationship - at the time I thought that it was nice," she explained.

The woman insisted she never gave permission for the pictures to be publicised.

Although the photos were taken down, she said that the incident had left her still feeling "a mess".

The court heard she had worked as a pole dancer in Holland for more than four years before returning to Northern Ireland.

Questioned by prosecution counsel Stephanie Boyd, she stressed that nothing to do with her work in the industry was ever publicly shared.

McGowan-Gormley denied both charges of common assault and disclosing a private sexual photograph without consent and with the intention of causing distress.

He contested the revenge porn allegations by mounting a defence that he believed that the images had already been distributed as part of her pole dancing work.

Defence barrister Michard Ward put it to her: "Are you sure these photographs weren't taken for you to advertise yourself?"

But she said: "Yes, because it was after the period I was working as a pole dancer."

Convicting McGowan-Gormley of both charges, District Judge Fiona Bagnall backed the woman's version of events that pictures she initially took for a calendar had been kept private.

Mrs Bagnall ordered the defendant to return for sentencing in five weeks' time.

Belfast Telegraph

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