July 2018

Dundee man posed as model agent to get naked images of ‘vulnerable’ schoolgirl

A fake model agent who conned a “vulnerable” 15-year-old girl into sending him a string of sexual selfies was locked up on Tuesday.

Andrew O’Neill sent a topless photo of the girl to two of her friends when she became suspicious and refused to send him any more photos.

He then threatened to send more images to her friends and family if she didn’t supply him with more indecent photos.

The abuse only came to light when the girl’s mother got involved and called in police.

They raided O’Neill’s home in Dundee’s Baxter Park area and found evidence of his sick online scam, as well as a massive haul of child abuse images he had amassed on a laptop, tablet and mobile phone.

O’Neill admitted charges of attempted extortion and making indecent images of children when he appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

He was told by a sheriff: “These are exceptionally serious offences.”

Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie told the court O’Neill’s victim had been contacted by him on Facebook.

He was using the psuedonym “Jennifer Watts”, with a profile picture showing a young, brown haired woman in her early 20s and a profile cover photo describing “her” as a “modelling agent”.

Miss Gillespie said: “The girl has high functioning autism and can remember events very clearly.

“She received a Facebook message request from a Jennifer Watts and believing her page to be legitimate accepted it.

“The accused complimented her on her appearance and said she had a lot of modelling potential.”

O’Neill persuaded the girl to send clothed pictures, then more of her in underwear.

“He then told her it was important for models to be flexible and asked if she could touch her toes and asked for pictures of her bending down touching her toes and of her looking back over her shoulder,” said Miss Gillespie.

“He later contacted her asking if she would feel comfortable sending images fully naked.

“She was again uncomfortable but he persuaded her and she sent images from the front, back and side.

“There was no contact after that and she became suspicious.”

Around a week later O’Neill asked for more images and the girl refused.

A school friend of the girl than received a message asking if she knew her followed by a topless image of her.

When the girl said she was contacting police O’Neill begged her not to then threatened to send the images to family and friends on Facebook.

Another friend also received a message containing the topless photo.

The girl’s mother became aware and contacted police.

O’Neill, 21, of Baxter Park Glebe, Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to charges of attempted extortion committed between July 1 2016 and September 14 2016 and taking or making indecent images of children between July 11 2016 and July 31 2017.

Defence solicitor Scott Norrie said: “He has been made aware by me of the likely outcome of these proceedings”

Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and a psychological assessment of O’Neill.

He was remanded in custody and placed on the sex offenders register meantime.

The sheriff said: “These are exceptionally serious offences in which the accused set up a Facebook account which was a fraud.

“He selected a victim – and I use that word deliberately – who was vulnerable due to her age and her particular difficulties.”

He added: “It has been well publicised that this kind of behaviour leads to enormous distress to the victim and in extreme cases it has lead to the suicide of victims.

“The only thing as present advised preventing him being sent to the High Court for sentencing is that this is an early plea.”