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Dublin: 12°C Friday 18 September 2020

Gardaí investigate after woman claims she was blackmailed over intimate pictures

The woman paid money into a prepaid debit card account.

GARDAÍ IN DUBLIN are investigating after a woman claims she was blackmailed by a man she once dated who managed to access intimate photographs and threatened to share them.

The woman, who is in her mid 20s, went to a garda station in north Dublin and alleges that she told officers that a man had sent her a private message to her Instagram account which brought her to a caché of her own photographs. 

These included what she described as “nudes” she had sent her boyfriend previously. But there were also photographs which she believed she was the only person to have access to in the collection. 

The woman went to the garda station late last month and explained to the desk sergeant that she wished to make an official report in relation to the matter but no formal statement was taken. 

A few days later, the woman returned to the same garda station and asked to speak with a female officer and spoke at length about what she had experienced. It is understood an official statement of complaint was also not given at this time. 

The alleged victim said that the man insisted on being paid €500 or he would publish the images online. She had evidence of the blackmail including messages to and from the man, as well as an online account used to deposit the money. 

The man did not reveal his identity to her but she eventually learned that she had met him once – months before the Instagram message – and they have a number of mutual friends. 

It is still unclear how he came to be in possession of the private images. 

Currently, the only law protecting against the distribution of these images without permission is contained in the Non Fatal Offences Against The Person Act. There is a subsection of this act which deals with harassment. However, there are no specific laws in place to guard against this type of online incident.

Last year, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said that Ireland is lagging when it comes to dealing with the issue of ‘revenge porn’.

The Wexford TD said Irish laws covering so-called revenge porn – the posting of sexually explicit images of a person online without their consent, generally by a former partner or date – are not adequate, which is why his party is bringing forward its own Bill to tackle the issue.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill would provide for a six-month prison sentence upon conviction. It is still before the Oireachtas.

The Garda Press Office confirmed officers are investigating the claims.

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