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Catfish abuser who blackmailed girls on Snapchat admits manslaughter

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A man at the centre of an international catfishing investigation has admitted manslaughter after a girl he blackmailed killed herself.

An investigation was launched into Alexander McCartney after Police Scotland received report of a girl being blackmailed on Snapchat.

The 26-year-old’s home on Lissummon Road, Newry, Northern Ireland, was searched, a computer and mobile phone were seized.

Detectives found thousands of indecent images of young girls on the devices and McCartney was charged with over 180 offences including manslaughter.

He admitted a charge of blackmailing a 12-year-old girl, who was not from the UK, between May 7 and May 11, 2018.

The child, who cannot been named for legal reasons, then took her own life.

At previous court hearings, McCartney pled guilty to over 180 charges spanning over a period from 2013 to 2019.

The media have been unable to report the proceedings until restrictions were lifted by the judge on Monday.

Catfishing involves using a fake online identity to target other victims for online sexual abuse, exploitation and blackmail.

McCartney targeted more than 60 victims from around the world. He admitted inciting children to engage in sexual activity, over 50 charges of blackmail and multiple offences of possessing indecent images of children.

Judge Mr Justice O’Hara said “this is going to be a complex sentencing exercise” and asked that a “comprehensive list” of the offences and victims is compiled.

He said he would hear the plea on May 16, adding: “I will sentence as soon as possible after that.”

Help and support is available now if you need it. Details of services available can be found at stv.tv/advice 

The Samaritans can be contacted any time, from any phone, free on 116 123, email at jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch. Details of other services and more information can be found on the NHS website here. 

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