Online blackmailer who targeted tragic teenager Ronan Hughes receives jail term
An online blackmailer whose Northern Irish teenage victim later took his own life has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Ronan Hughes, 17, from Co Tyrone, died in June 2015 after he was targeted by Romanian Iulian Enache, 31.
Enache will be released in October 2019 after he was sentenced by a court in Romania for blackmail and producing and distributing indecent images of a child, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
PSNI detective chief inspector James Mullen said: "A four-year prison sentence is no compensation for the loss of Ronan Hughes - a young man who had his whole life ahead of him - however, there can be no doubt that the sentence means others will be spared the pain and loss experienced by the Hughes family at the hands of Enache."
He said it had been a complex and protracted investigation over two years involving Romanian police, the PSNI, Europol and the National Crime Agency (NCA)
The detective added: " Undoubtedly, the work and partnership between the PSNI, our Romanian police colleagues and each of the agencies is what led to the conviction and prison sentence for Iulian Enache."
He is being released in 2019 under provisions in Romanian law and taking account of the time he has already served.
The chief inspector said the Hughes family, from Clonoe near Coalisland, had shown great dignity and displayed co-operation and patience during the investigation which culminated in the sentencing at a court in Timisoara in western Romania.
The senior officer appealed to parents and guardians to do all they can to keep their children safe from the hands of online criminals.
"We are all aware of the part social media plays in today's society, therefore, it is incumbent on everyone to do what they can to stop offenders like Enache.
"I would also urge anyone who has experienced anything of a similar nature, or has received any inappropriate images or links, to contact p olice or tell a trusted adult. You will not get into trouble.
"This tragic case highlights that police will do all they can to pursue these online criminals who are preying on our communities.
"We all deserve to be able to use the internet to learn, explore and connect with each other, but all of us need to be aware of the risks involved in doing so, especially on social media."