Footballer jailed after sharing picture of himself having sex with 16-year-old girl

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 WhatsApp, but it was later leaked on social media.

Judge McFarland said the incident had had a deep and lasting impact on the victim.

He said Donnelly had treated the girl as a “sexual conquest or trophy” and had taken and shared the picture to “boast about his sexual exploits to friends”.

The judge noted that the image would be online forever.

“It remains forever on the worldwide web, it’s incapable of deletion,” he said.

Donnelly showed no emotion as he was told he was going to jail. 

One supporter called out “we love you Jay” as he was led away by court guards.

Judge McFarland said the incident had had a deep and lasting impact on the victim.

He said Donnelly had treated the girl as a “sexual conquest or trophy” and had taken and shared the picture to “boast about his sexual exploits to friends”.

The judge noted that the image would be online forever.

“It remains forever on the worldwide web, it’s incapable of deletion,” he said.

Donnelly showed no emotion as he was told he was going to jail.

One supporter called out “we love you Jay” was he was led away by court guards.

The judge said the picture content fell into the most serious category of indecent images of children.

He said aggravating factors in the case were the impact on the child and the fact Donnelly created the image himself.

In mitigation, the judge factored in Donnelly’s previously clear record, his remorse, his age, the degree of verbal abuse he had suffered and the fact he pleaded guilty.

“You created the image and were responsible for distributing to wider group and, indirectly through that group, on to the worldwide web,” he told Donnelly.

The striker was placed in handcuffs as he was taken from the dock.

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