'Catfish' jailed for blackmailing 29 women into sending intimate images

'Catfish' jailed for blackmailing 29 women into sending intimate images

A MAN who used a series of false identities to entrap women on the internet has been jailed after admitting 57 offences.

Philip O’Shea was sentenced on Monday, June 5 at Antrim Crown Court, having previously pleaded guilty to the offences, which included disclosing private images and blackmail.

The 32-year-old, of Bush Rise in Bushmills, was sentenced to eight years and three months – with half to be served in custody and half on licence.

He is also subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for 10 years.

The court heard how O’Shea used social media, and different online fake identities, to message and befriend his victims.

Once he had gained their trust, he coaxed the women into sending him intimate images of themselves.

He would then demand more images, using the threat that he would share those already received with victims’ friends, families or colleagues, if they did not comply.

The PSNI’s Detective Chief Inspector David McBurney confirmed: “On many occasions he did in fact send images to loved ones and places of work.

“And, on three occasions, he threatened to kill his victims if demands were not met.

“It’s actually difficult to imagine the ordeal – the absolute humiliation, distress and fear – that so many innocent victims were subjected to,” he added.

“I’m grateful to each and every individual who found the courage to speak up.  Your support has been invaluable.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector McBurney said: “I’m keen to take the opportunity to encourage anyone else who may be the victim of online blackmail of a sexual nature to come forward. We’ll treat you with total sensitivity.

“And please be assured that if you are, or have been, a victim then you’re certainly not alone.

“If you can, confide in a trusted friend or family member, and please contact officers immediately on 101.”