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South Armagh student accused of biggest ‘catfish’ case in UK history facing further questions

Online grooming

A south Armagh university student accused of making and selling indecent images of children is to be released into police custody for questioning on other matters.

Prosecution told court that there is a dedicated PSNI cyber crime team currently working on the 21-year-old’s case due to the potential number of victims.

Alexander McCartney, of Lissummon Road, Newry is charged with four counts of possessing indecent photographs, three counts of making indecent photographs, four counts of distributing indecent photographs of children,  four counts of sexual communication with a child, four counts of inciting a child to engage in a sexual activity, four counts of intimidation and possession of Class B.

The defendant appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, via videolink from Maghaberry.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between May 2018 and July 2019.

Prosecution told court that a full file was still outstanding and that the PSNI wished to make an Article 47 application in order to interview McCartney with regards to other matters on December 18.

Defence barrister Kevin O’Hare said: “No issue with any of that.”

The defendant was remanded in custody and is to produced at Newry Magistrates’ on December 18.

A previous court sitting on the case heard how the computer science student allegedly blackmailed young victims from around the world and that US authorities want to extradite him.

Speaking previously, the prosecution, stated: “This is the biggest case in UK history and it will be even bigger now.

“There are a significant number of new victims. There are thousands of new victims expected to be identified across the world.”

The final year University of Ulster student has been in custody ever since his arrest in July.

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