Philip O’Shea, originally from the Republic but with an address at Bush Rise in Bushmills, was sentenced today, Monday 5 June, having previously pleaded guilty to 57 offences, including disclosing private images and blackmail.
The 32-year-old, who appeared before Antrim Crown Court, was sentenced to eight years and three months – half to be served in custody and half on licence. He is subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for 10 years.
Detective Chief Inspector David McBurney said:
“The defendant had previously pleaded guilty to 57 offences, including harassment, disclosing private images, blackmail, threats to kill and threats to damage property.
“There were 29 female victims in total, right across Northern Ireland, targeted between September 2020 and February 2022.
“O’Shea used social media, and different online fake identities, to message and befriend his victims.
“In many instances, having gained their trust, the women were coaxed into sending intimate images of themselves to O’Shea for his own sexual gratification He, in turn, demanded further images, using the threat that he would share those already received with victims’ friends, families or colleagues. 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.
“I’m grateful to each and every individual who found the courage to speak up. Your support has been invaluable.”
Detective Chief Inspector McBurney continued:
“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.”