Romanian man jailed after death of tragic Co Tyrone teenager Ronan Hughes
Iulian Enache will be released in 2019
A Romanian man who blackmailed a Co Tyrone teenager, who later took his own life, has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Iulian Enache (31) pleaded guilty in court in Timisoara, Romania last week to blackmailing Coalisland teenager Ronan Hughes via webcam over two years ago.
He also admitted to producing as well as distributing indecent images of a child.
He was arrested in October last year following a joint operation by the PSNI and Romanian authorities. The National Crime Agency and Europol were also involved as part of the investigation.
Under Romanian law, Enache, who had been remanded in custody, will only serve three years in jail and will be released in October 2019 taking account of the time he has already served.
Ronan was 17 when he died in June 2015 after being tricked into posting intimate images of himself online and later being bribed.
Welcoming the conviction. Detective Chief Inspector James Mullen, from PSNI’s Criminal Investigation Branch, said: "This has been a tragic case and, first and foremost, in our minds is the family of Ronan Hughes who have lost a son and a brother. We must never forget that."
"I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Hughes family for the dignity they have shown since their devastating loss, and for their co-operation and patience with our investigation.
"This has been a complex and protracted investigation over the course of two years, involving a huge effort between PSNI officers who travelled to Romania working closely with our colleagues there, and prosecuting officers in the jurisdiction.
"I want to pay special thanks to Romanian Police for their work in this investigation, and to Europol and the National Crime Agency for their help. 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.
"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."
Detective Chief Inspector Mullen said anyone who is the victim of webcam blackmailing or has received any inappropriate images or links should contact police 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," he said.
If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, you can also contact the Samaritans on 0845 790 9090 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.