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Further alleged victim to be interviewed in ‘catfish’ case against Co Armagh student

Prosecution described the case against the 21-year-old as a 'complex and large investigation with an international element'

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 in December 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: “A further victim has been identified, the police have been in contact with them and an ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) interview is to take place.

“In relation to all other matters, a full file has been submitted and it has been sent for counsel’s opinion. I am asking for four weeks for an update.”

He added: “The file is extensive, possibly the largest of its kind, certainly the largest ever in this jurisdiction. As such I am not able to provide a timetable at this point.”

Defence barrister Kevin O’Hare stated: “I think that in four weeks time a timetable would be useful. This has been going on since last summer.

“I appreciate the size of the file and that this is going to be labour intensive, but one possible reason for bail would be the time this will take. We were told at the start this would be expedited, but there is concern this will drag on.”

The case was adjourned until April 8 for a timetable towards a decision.

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