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‘Significant number of new victims’ in ‘catfish’ case against Co. Armagh student

Prosecution have described the case against a Co. Armagh university student, accused of making and selling indecent images of children, as a “complex and large investigation with an international element”.

Alexander McCartney, 21, of Lissummon Road appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday – via videolink from Maghaberry.

Following police questioning last month a total of 386 new charges were levelled at the defendant, many of which involved children under the age of 13.

They included: inciting a child into sexual activity including penetration; making, distribution and possession of indecent photographs of a child; blackmail and encouraging sexual activity with an animal.

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

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

Speaking in Newry Courthouse on Wednesday, the prosecution stated: “The full file in the case remains outstanding, the are a significant number of new victims which have come forward following the interviews which were carried out before Christmas.

“You worship will know this is a complex and large investigation with an international element, discussions are ongoing on how to expedite the case”.

There was an application to adjourn the case for four weeks, defence barrister Kevin O’Hare commented: “I take no issue with that but I would like a progress report in four weeks”.

McCartney was remanded in custody until February 12 for an update.

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