A Northampton man sent intimate photos of a woman through her own Facebook account after hacking into her profile. Thomas Warwick, 36, of Cedar Road East, appeared at Northampton Magistrates Court yesterday (April 20).
He admitted one charge of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress, which occurred on October 25, 2020.
Warwick and the victim were in “something of a casual relationship”, despite her living in Jersey, but would meet up on occasions.
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Andrew Hopkinson, prosecuting, said: “Somewhere within that the two would engage in at least one intimate video call.
“At around the end of 2020, an issue arose that caused her to question the status of the relationship and she had discussions with him about that situation. She asked him to go away and think about what he wanted.
“Things took a turn for the worse and he continued contacting her and she didn’t really want that and his attentions became a little bit more fervent and a little bit unwanted.
“She told him she didn’t want further contact and the following day, the victim went to access her Facebook account and found it had been hacked.”
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The account had been accessed by somebody who “clearly was aware of the email address and password” with Warwick helping her login previously when she could not access the internet.
Mr Hopkinson said: “A number of messages over the course of the following weeks were sent which suggested very strongly to her that it was the defendant who had done that.
“From her personal account on Facebook to a number of different individuals, a photograph was sent. That photograph was a still image taken from one of the intimate video calls the couple had had together.
“It was redacted so the defendant’s face wasn’t visible in the corner. Other contacts were made through the Facebook account which were effectively sexual in nature.
“They didn’t disclose images of her but were clearly unusual and most of her friends realised that something strange was going on. The password was changed by the individual who had access to the accounts.
“She was then unable to access it either to close it down or to prevent other images from being accessed. It went on for a number of days and the matter was then reported to the police.”
The defendant was arrested by Northamptonshire Police and he declined to answer questions, with various cybercrime investigations undertaken.
Through those checks, the account had been accessed by the defendant and a mobile phone and email address were linked to that account which shouldn’t have been.
Mr Hopkinson added: “There was at the very least, some planning. Even if that decision was taken in the heat of the moment, the decision to refuse access and change the password suggests this.
“There are at least two individuals who received the image of her. I’m not sure, therefore, that I can necessarily say that that is widely or publicly circulated.
“It’s difficult for me to establish whether this was something that was being sent over Facebook Messenger rather than being posted on the website for all to see.
“Substantial distress is caused and it’s right to say that there is an extensive victim personal statement which explains the emotional distress, humiliation and degradation that she felt at having those images sent.
“The uncertainty as to how many people who’ve received images because she only knows of those who have contacted her and said something strange has gone on.”
The defendant hasn’t previously received a custodial sentence and has had no convictions since 2013, with his solicitor Matthew Adwinkcle telling the court that “mental health issues” were in play at that time.
Magistrates adjourned the case until May 26 for a pre-sentence report to be carried out, with Warwick released on conditional bail where he is not to contact the victim.
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