Belfast Telegraph

Others still have image of Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly with girl, court told

Irish League footballer Jay Donnelly at a previous court appearance
Irish League footballer Jay Donnelly at a previous court appearance

By Alan Erwin

An image of Irish League football star Jay Donnelly having sex with a 16-year-old girl remains in the possession of others, a court has heard.

Prosecutors said they were unable to establish how many people still have the photo shared by the Cliftonville striker.

Donnelly, 23, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, is appealing a prison sentence imposed for distributing an indecent image of a child.

But his challenge to the four-month jail term handed down was adjourned for a second time as defence lawyers await a psychiatric report.

It was previously disclosed that the footballer took the photo of the girl wearing his team shirt while they were engaged in consensual sex.

He then shared it with a friend and up to 10 other players through the WhatsApp messaging service, before it leaked and went viral on social media.

The girl was said to have been humiliated and subjected to verbal abuse on the street as a consequence.

Donnelly, who is currently on bail, did not attend Tuesday's scheduled hearing at Belfast County Court.

Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said it was hard to determine how many are currently in possession of the picture.

However, she submitted: "There are still a number of people, the prosecution would submit, still have the image."

The barrister added that the photo "goes slightly further than what may spring to mind".

With Donnelly dropped by Cliftonville following his conviction in November last year, his playing career remains in the balance pending the outcome of the appeal.

The club has issued a statement making clear it does not condone his behaviour and pledging to take strong action to protect its reputation.

Irish Football Association disciplinary proceedings will also determine if Donnelly has brought the game into disrepute.

During the sentencing hearing in January defence lawyers described the player as "crushed" by what he had done, claiming he acted out of bravado rather than any malice.

It was revealed that he has been assessed as having a borderline learning disability, with an IQ in the bottom eight percent of the population.

But the trial judge held that he had committed such a "gross invasion of privacy" that immediate imprisonment was required.

Donnelly's appeal against that sentence was originally put back until today to enable preparation of a psychiatric report.

His Honour Judge David McFarland was told the expert assessment is still not available.

Citing the delay in the case, he re-listed the appeal for hearing next month "with or without the psychiatric report".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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