Revenge porn pictures couple back together, court told

Darren McGowan-Gormley leaves court after receiving 12 months probation
Darren McGowan-Gormley leaves court after receiving 12 months probation

A man who posted private sexual photos of his ex-pole dancer girlfriend on Facebook has been ordered to complete 12 months probation.

Darren McGowan-Gormley was told the sentence was being imposed to help him get a better understanding of relationships.

The 43-year-old was convicted at Belfast Magistrates’ Court following one of the first successful revenge porn prosecutions brought in Northern Ireland.

McGowan-Gormley, with an address at Trasna Way in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, was also found guilty of assaulting the woman by grabbing her throat during a confrontation.

The offences were committed in June – after he had split up with the woman.

But it was revealed on Tuesday that the couple are now back together.

McGowan-Gormley fought the case by claiming to believe his partner had already distributed the pictures in a calendar venture.

They had broken up amid angry accusations that the victim was interested in another woman whose name she mentioned in her sleep.

She alleged McGowan-Gormley grabbed and pushed her against gates when she went to his apartment in the city to collect belongings.

Later that evening she discovered two sexual pictures had been posted on Facebook, with a reference to her work and giving a phone number.

“I felt sick, this was such a concern to me,” she recalled in evidence last month.

“I know how the internet works, it just takes one person to put that photograph on and it’s all over the place.”

She told the court the images were taken six or seven years ago when she was considering making a calendar to sell commercially.

Although she never went through with the business idea, she sent the privately stored images to McGowan-Gormley after they started seeing each other.

The woman explained how she believed it was a nice gesture to make when you start seeing someone.

But she insisted that no permission was given for the pictures to be publicised.

Although the photos were taken down, she said the incident has left her still feeling “a mess”.

The court heard she had worked as a pole dancer in Holland for more than four years before returning to Northern Ireland.

She stressed that nothing to do with her work in the sex industry was ever publicly shared.

McGowan-Gormley denied both charges of common assault and disclosing a private sexual photograph without consent and with the intention of causing distress.

He contested the revenge porn allegations by mounting a defence that he believed the images had already been distributed as part of her pole dancing work.

In court defence barrister Michard Ward said his client had apologised and should never have acted as he had.

Mr Ward also disclosed: “The parties have now resumed their relationship.

“It has been difficult, but they are both making a concerted effort to make something of it.”

Rejecting the suggestion of a financial penalty, District Judge Fiona Bagnall instead imposed 12 months probation for the offences.

She said it was “in the hope that it will assist in understanding the nature of relationships”.