Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville sack jailed striker Jay Donnelly - report

Jay Donnelly
Jay Donnelly

Cliftonville Football Club has sacked striker Jay Donnelly, it has been reported.

It follows after the footballer was jailed for sharing an indecent image of a child after an appeal hearing on Tuesday.

Donnelly (24) previously admitted distributing a photograph of the then 16-year-old taken while they were having sex in 2016.

He was originally sentenced to four months in jail in January, but was released on bail pending an appeal.

Yesterday a judge at Belfast County Court reduced his original term to three months, but refused to suspend the sentence.

Afterwards Cliftonville said it would "follow the required club disciplinary procedures" - but stopped short of confirming whether Donnelly's contract would be ripped up.

On Wednesday the BBC reported the club has sacked the player.

The Sun journalist Mark McIntosh, in a tweet, also confirmed the news.

"The club had to follow a strict disciplinary and employment law procedure before any official confirmation," he added.

It's understood a letter was sent to Donnelly in jail terminating his contract of employment with the club.

No one from the club could be reached for comment on Wednesday evening.

The IFA is to consider a charge against Jay Donnelly of bringing the game into disrepute.

Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, took the photograph of himself having sex with the girl who was wearing a club shirt with his name and number on the back in June 2016.

He shared the image with a friend and a WhatsApp group with 10 members, including some team-mates. It was later leaked on social media. Donnelly admitted the charge of distributing the image at Belfast Magistrates Court on November 23.

The following day he played in a fixture against Linfield. It is unclear whether Cliftonville knew of the guilty plea at that time. He has not played since.

Yesterday family members wept in court as Judge David McFarland ordered Donnelly to be taken down from the dock.

Afterwards Donnelly apologised to his victim.

He said: "I accept the decision of the court today in reducing my sentence from four months to three months' custody.

"It was accepted by the court today, that since this incident occurred three years ago, I had and continue to show genuine remorse for my action.

"I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the hurt that my action caused.

"This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life."

Donnelly added: "I also want to thank my girlfriend, my family and my friends for the support they have shown me throughout this case.

"This is something I wish to move on from following my sentence, and I ask that my family are allowed to move on also, and are given privacy to do so."

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