Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Newry student charged with 386 sex offences

A 21-year-old Newry man appeared before the city’s Magistrates Court on Friday to be charged with almost 400 sex offences, some of which were committed against a child under the age of 13.

Alexander McCartney, of Lissummon Road, Newry had previously been charged with 24 offences relating to online sexual abuse and blackmail of children and has been on remand in Maghaberry prison since July.

On Wednesday he appeared at Newry Magistrates Court from where he was released into police custody for further questioning.  He was brought back to the court on Thursday where 386 fresh charges were put to him.  The new charges include a range of offences relating to causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity involving penetration; possessing, making and distributing indecent images; sexual communication with a child; intimidation to commit an act; sexual activity with a child and blackmail.

McCartney, a computer science student, spoke only to confirm that he understood the nature of the new charges.  There was no application for bail and he was remanded back into custody until his next court hearing in January.

A previous court hearing was told there are potentially “thousands” of victims across the world, with the investigation stretching to the United States and New Zealand in the case that has been described as the UK’s biggest “catfish” child abuse investigation.

“Catfishing” is a term used when online scammers use a fake identity or social network profile to contact victims and trick them into believing they are someone they can trust.  

US authorities have already requested the extradition of McCartney in relation to the distribution of indecent images of children.