Belfast Telegraph

Jay Donnelly apologises to sex photo victim - hopes she can now 'have some closure'

Footballer Jay Donnelly arriving at Laganside Court in Belfast. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Footballer Jay Donnelly arriving at Laganside Court in Belfast. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Jailed footballer Jay Donnelly has issued a public apology to the girl whose indecent image he shared on social media.

As the Cliftonville FC striker began a three-month prison term, he expressed his hope that she can now have some closure. Donnelly, who turns 24 on April 10, admitted distributing a photograph of the pair having sex in 2016 - when she was aged 16.

The image was shared with other players on a WhatsApp messaging group before going viral, resulting in the victim suffering taunts and abuse when she was out.

On appeal to Belfast County Court the Irish League star's original sentence was reduced down from four months.

But Judge David McFarland refused to suspend the term due to the gravity of the offence and the need to deter others.

Following the ruling Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, issued a statement through his solicitor John Finucane.

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 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."

Jay Donnelly in action for Cliftonville.
Jay Donnelly in action for Cliftonville.

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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