An Omagh man has been sentenced today, Monday 15 January, at Dungannon Crown Court for numerous offences including harassment, sexual offences and computer misuse.

Ryan Eastwood, aged 30, had previously pleaded guilty to 49 offences relating to 34 victims. 

Today he was handed a three-year concurrent sentence.  This includes three years for attempted intimidation, three years for attempted blackmail, one year for disclosing private sexual photographs with intent to cause distress, and two and a half years for attempting to cause a person to engage in sexual activity.  He will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register and will also be subjected to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for 10 years.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods said:  “Today’s sentencing is the result of an investigation into offences carried out between October 2019 and June 2022. The victims were identified not only in Northern Ireland, but also in England, Scotland and Wales.  The significant protracted period of offending, coupled with the wide range of victims’ locations, highlights both the scale of the offending and the complexities of the investigation. It involved investigators and technical officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Cyber Crime team, with support from Action Fraud and police Cyber Teams in England.

“Eastwood used a variety of techniques, including social engineering, to obtain personal pictures of victims. On some occasions he used compromised social media accounts, often posing as friends, to gain access to victims’ accounts. He managed to access personal information in private areas of accounts.  And, in some instances, he posed as a representative for lingerie companies in an attempt to obtain images.  Whatever the deceptive means, the end result was the same: a violation of privacy and trust, resulting in understandable distress.

“The victims in this case were targeted through cybercrime, despite the defendant being previously banned from using the internet as part of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.  Today’s sentence should send a clear message to anyone involved in this type of cybercrime that they cannot act with impunity and that they are not anonymous. Offenders will be identified, vigorously pursued, and brought before the courts to face the consequences of such activity.”

Detective Chief Inspector Woods continued: “The Police Service is grateful to each and every individual who found the courage to speak up. Your support in this complex investigation has been invaluable in helping us to piece together an intricate pattern of offending.

“I am keen to take the opportunity to encourage anyone who may be the victim of such offences to come forward.  You will be treated with the utmost sensitivity.  And please be assured that if you are, or have been, a victim then you’re certainly not alone.”