Friday 2 December 2016

Man created fake profile on graphic porn site using woman's photos

Published 06/11/2015 | 17:27

A YOUNG man who hijacked a woman's image to use it on a fake social media site with graphic sexual content was jailed for six months.

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Stephen Downey (24) was jailed as it emerged the young woman was left distraught, embarrassed and humiliated by the shock discovery that legitimate pictures of her had been included on the site alongside pornographic images.

Downey had created the fake social media profile and apparently chose images of a pornographic model to include alongside the legitimate photos because the woman simply resembled the victim.

He had copied images of the victim from her legitimate social media site and used them on another fake site he had created.

The practice is known as 'catfishing'.

Downey of Lissadell, Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork sobbed as Judge Sean O'Donnabhain said it was a very serious matter and jailed him for six months.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that details of the fake website had been sent to more than 1,000 men - and the young woman, who cannot be identified, only discovered what was happening when a concerned friend brought it to her attention.

In a related matter, Downey also circulated the address of a different Cork couple via the fake website in the context of lewd images.

More than 30 people later called to the property believing it was the home address of the young woman on the fake website.

The young couple were left terrified by the callers, one of whom appeared to be high on drugs and another who parked outside their home for several hours.

Downey pleaded guilty to three counts of harassment contrary to the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act over a five month period from March 2014.

The young woman is a university graduate and said she felt "exploited" by Downey's sick actions.

The victim is baffled as to why she was targeted.

Downey only knew her by sight and the victim never had any dealings with him.

In a victim impact statement, she said she felt humiliated and exploited by what had happened.

"I worked so hard to build my career but Stephen Downey was trashing it by exploiting me."

The woman also said the shock over what had happened was quickly replaced by fear over the potential consequences for her.

“I felt I was in great danger because what if one of these men identified me on a night out?"

The young woman said she felt the whole experience was degrading and she was still shocked by the "vile manner" in which Downey had treated her and her identity.

She added that it was an example of the worst possible abuse of social media.

Judge O'Donnabhain was told that Downey deeply regretted what had happened and, after being traced via the Internet by Gardai, made immediate admissions and co-operated fully.

The court heard that Downey had been bullied as a teen and had isolation and depression issues.

He has a number of previous convictions.

Judge O'Donnabhain warned it was a very serious matter.

“He exposed these women to terrible experiences out of some kind of voyeurism and disconnection."

"There is absolutely no excusing this behaviour."

He imposed a 12 months prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final six months in light of Downey's plea, his remorse and his efforts to address his personal issues.

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