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Co. Armagh student accused of biggest ‘catfish’ case in UK history to face Crown Court on almost 200 charges

A Co. Armagh university student accused of what has been described as the biggest ‘catfish’ case in the UK will face almost 200 charges, a court has heard.

Alexander McCartney, 22, of Lissummon Road did not appear at Newry Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Lisburn on Wednesday – as his case was listed for an update.

The defendant currently faces a total of 410 charges spread across two indictments, alleged to have been committed on various dates between September 2017 and July 2019.

These include offences of possessing, making and distributing indecent images of children, sexual communication with children, inciting children to engage in sexual activity, blackmail, intimidation and encouraging a child to have intercourse with an animal.

The case had previously been described as “the biggest case [of its kind] in UK history” .

Speaking on Wednesday, prosecution stated: “I can inform the court that a decision has been entered and I will be making an application to adjourn until July 15 for a PE (preliminary enquiry) to be fixed.

“A total of 198 charged have been drafted, the directing officer have drafted evidence and this will be with the case prep department by the end of next week”.

Defence counsel Kevin O’Hare told the court that given the scale of the case, it will “likely require an application to the Legal Services Authority for exceptionality.”

District Judge Amanda Brady adjourned the case to July 15.

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