Catfishing abuser admits girl’s manslaughteron March 11, 2024 at 2:51 pm

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Alexander McCartney, from County Armagh, has pleaded guilty to 185 charges against more than 60 victims.

Alexander McCartneyImage source, OTHER

A man at the centre of one of the world’s largest catfishing investigations has admitted manslaughter after a girl he blackmailed killed herself.

The 12-year-old girl, who was not from the UK, died in 2018.

Belfast Crown Court heard she was exploited by Alexander McCartney, who is 25 and from County Armagh.

He has previously admitted 185 charges involving more than 60 child victims.

The manslaughter victim cannot be named for legal reasons.

The media had previously not been able to report on McCartney’s guilty pleas but this restriction was lifted at Belfast Crown Court on Monday.

The charges cover a period from 2013 to 2019 with victims being identified in both New Zealand and the USA.

Blackmail and abuse

Putting the case back until May for sentencing, Mr Justice O’Hara said he wanted “a comprehensive list of all the offences compiled person-by-person”.

“That’ll show the timescale and the number of girls to who it happened,” he said.

“This is going to be a very complex sentencing exercise.”

McCartney, from the rural Lissummon Road area just a few miles outside Newry, first appeared in the city’s magistrates’ court in late July 2019.

He has since been on remand at Maghaberry Prison.

As well as the manslaughter charge he has pleaded guilty to 59 counts of blackmail.

There are also dozens of charges relating to making and distributing indecent photographs and a total of 70 charges of inciting children to engage in sexual activity.

How did McCartney get caught?

Previous court hearings were told the investigation began in 2018 following a report made to police in Scotland that a girl was being blackmailed on Snapchat.

Investigations led police to identify McCartney.

His home was searched, with a computer and mobile phone taken away.

When the devices were examined, police discovered thousands of images of young girls in “various states of dress and undress, performing various sexual acts”.

During an unsuccessful bail application earlier in the case, the court heard that McCartney said he would upload an image of the girl from Scotland to the internet if she did not do what he asked.

This was a different child to the one who took her own life.

Once police began investigating they found dozens more victims.

The young girl who took her own life cannot be named due to law changes in Northern Ireland last year.

This extended anonymity to victims of sexual offences to 25 years after their death.

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