A man who used photographs taken from Facebook to make posts on a “rape fantasy” internet forum has been spared jail.
o Antrim man Brian Cobb (23) admitted two charges of sending “indecent” messages or other matter via a public electronic communications network on January 18 and February 21, 2021.
Cobb, from Craigmore Park, Antrim town, was said to be ashamed of his behaviour and to have harboured sexual fantasies about the female victims.
At Antrim Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Ballymena, on Tuesday, a prosecutor said that in March 2022 a female said she was made aware through friends that her picture had been posted to an online pornographic chat website.
The prosecutor said the photograph used was lifted from a social media page and “beneath the picture was explicit text written by the account holder who had posted the image”.
The post was uploaded in January 2021 by an account with a username which the female recognised as belonging to Cobb.
Also in March last year, police received another report of a similar nature from a female, a “friend of the original victim”.
The prosecutor said the female was made aware by the original victim that “her photograph had also been posted on the same website, with explicit text beneath”.
Again, that image had been taken from social media and posted on the website, in February 2022, by an account with a username the female believed belonged to Cobb.
When interviewed by police, Cobb made “full admissions”.
The prosecutor said Cobb told officers he posted pictures on a “forum which related to rape fantasy” and that he had “taken the photographs from Facebook because he was harbouring fantasies about the injured parties”.
The court heard the defendant claimed to have been “suffering poor mental health at the time and was sexually frustrated”.
A defence barrister said Cobb had a previously clear record, had treated the case “very seriously” and has taken steps to “try to address his mental health and his offending behaviour”.
The lawyer said the defendant is in full-time employment, is “ashamed of his behaviour” and has “developed a necessary insight into the impact it has had on the victims”.
The barrister said a probation report deemed the defendant not necessary “for a period of statutory supervision”.
The lawyer said the report said Cobb would benefit from community service, which could be in Antrim town or an “animal sanctuary, where he could be placed to try to compensate to the community for this”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told Cobb: “It is a particularly nasty offence to post anyone’s details with inappropriate comments, but this, in my view, has been aggravated by a number of features — first of all the nature of the site that you posted the photographs on, and then the comments that you attribute to the images.
“That then encourages others to respond and that further aggravates and causes even more emotional trauma to the victims.”
The judge said he read the pre-sentence report and that the defendant appeared to have “demonstrated appropriate remorse and regret”.
Judge Broderick added that, along with Cobb’s clear record, “despite the serious nature of the offending and the aggravating features, rather than impose an immediate custodial sentence, I am minded to impose an order which is an alternative to imprisonment, namely community service”.
Handing down 150 hours of community service, the judge warned Cobb that if he failed to comply with the order he would be brought back to court and jailed.
A two-year restraining order regarding both victims was also put in place.