Jay Donnelly issues statement as he is jailed over sex picture of teenage girl

Irish League footballer Jay Donnelly has been jailed for sharing an indecent image of a child.

A judge hearing the striker's sentence appeal at Belfast County Court reduced his original jail term from four months to three on Tuesday morning.

Jay Donnelly outside court

Jay Donnelly outside court

But Judge David McFarland declined to suspend the sentence, insisting a custodial term was appropriate, given the need to send out a strong "deterrent" to others.

Cliftonville FC player Donnelly, 23, of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, admitted the charge in November at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

He had been on bail pending the outcome of the appeal against his original sentence.

On Tuesday, family and friends wept in the public gallery of the court as Judge McFarland ordered Donnelly to be taken down to the cells ahead of being transported to prison.

In June 2016, Donnelly took a photograph of himself having sex with a 16-year-old girl who was wearing a Cliftonville shirt with his name and number on the back.

He shared the image with a friend and with a number of fellow players on the messaging service WhatsApp. It was later leaked on social media.

After the hearing Donnelly apologised to his victim.

In a statement issued by his solicitor, he said he accepted the court's decision.

He added: "It was accepted by the court today that since this incident occurred, three years ago, I had and continue to show genuine remorse for my action.

"I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the hurt that my action caused. This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life.

"I also want to thank my girlfriend, my family and my friends for the support they have shown me throughout this case.

"This is something I wish to move on from following my sentence, and I ask that my family are allowed to move on also, and are given privacy to do so."