Online voyeur loses appeal against six-month jail term

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A Co Tyrone man who tricked a woman into undressing for him online by claiming to run a modelling agency has lost an appeal against his six-month jail term.

Ryan Eastwood, 25, was challenging the sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to a count of voyeurism.

But senior judges in Belfast ruled that the punishment handed down for the “abhorrent” offence was not manifestly excessive.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Stephens said: “He manipulated and controlled this particular woman by preying on her hopes and aspirations.”

Eastwood, of Coolnagard View in Omagh, contacted the victim in March 2017, using an email address similar to that of a legitimate agency.

Masquerading as a modelling boss with the fake name Ryan Edwards, he suggested an online video interview her by Skpe to assess if she was a suitable lingerie model.

The Court of Appeal heard the woman was informed he could help her earn up to £50,000.

During the calls Eastwood told the victim that he needed her to show her body, asking her to remove her underwear and pose in various outfits.

At one point he said she wasn’t trying hard enough.

The woman then became suspicious, checked the email address and contacted police.

Eastwood, who has a previous conviction for a similar offence, admitted the voyeurism charge as he was due to go on trial in December last year.

He was given a 12-month sentence, half to be spent behind bars and half on licence following his release.

Defence lawyers based their appeal on issues around the victim impact statement and remarks by the trial judge.

Despite accepting that her description of Eastwood’s behaviour as “bullying” was not strictly accurate, the Court of Appeal held that he had played with her trust for his own sexual gratification.

“When the inducement of benefits were not sufficient the appellant also added in derogatory and demeaning comments that she should try harder, so that she most likely felt she was being judged by a real modelling agency and found to be lacking,” Lord Justice Stephens said.

Concerns were expressed over the contents and timing of a victim impact statement from around a year prior to sentencing.

However, the court rejected any suggestion that the term handed down to Eastwood was manifestly excessive.

Describing the discount given for his guilty plea as generous, Lord Justice Stephens said he could have admitted his crime at an earlier stage.

“He was waiting to see if the complainant turned up to give evidence, he waited to see the whites of her eyes,” the judge added.

“That is not remorse, that substantially diminishes the reduction that should be available to an accused in such circumstances.”