A web troll who blackmailed 38 victims online in a bid to make them send him explicit photographs was yesterday jailed for 53 months.
The High Court in Glasgow heard that 21-year-old Andrew McBride conducted a five-year long internet campaign on Facebook and Skype.
He befriended his victims, but then turned nasty. He demanded that some of them perform sexual acts on webcam or he would download indecent images of them.
Some of his victims were so distraught that they contemplated killing themselves.
Yesterday judge Lord Turnbull told McBride, a social sciences student, that his behaviour was “manipulative and cruel” and added: “Your victims were humiliated to provide you with sexual images of themselves to you for your sexual gratificiation.
He ordered McBride from Prestwick to be monitored in the community for three years after his release from prison.
Lord Turnbull told McBride: “You have demonstrated little insight or remorse.”
The judge said that McBride had even pretended he was suffering from a psychiatric illness and claimed he couldn’t remember anything about the crime because of alcohol and drugs he had taken.
These claims were dismissed as “preposterous” by the judge.
Lord Turnbull added: “Many of your victims were deeply upset some very distressed to the extent they contemplated taking their own lives. Despite knowing this you continued your behaviour.”
In total McBride’s had 42 victims – 15 males and 27 females – and they were aged between 13 and 20.
The judge described McBride as “an intelligent young man from a stable family background’ and said this case highlighted “the risk of sexual exploitation of teenage children.”
Defence advocate Derick (correct) Nelson told the court that initially McBride became involved online because he had low self esteem found it difficult to form relationships.
But, Mr Nelson added: “He found himself popular online and began to abuse that. He enjoyed the power and control.”
Depute Douglas Fairley QC, prosecuting, said: “The accused used the aliases David Paterson, Lindsey Smith, Elizabeth McCormick and Jamie Harvey. He induced these teenagers to send him images of themselves in their underwear, naked or engaging in sexual activity.
“In the majority of incidents, the accused then threatened the complainers that he would upload the images to Facebook if they did not send him more photos of a similar nature or perform sex acts on a webcam for him.”
His offences came to light after one of his victims told her mother who contacted the police.
Printouts of Facebook conversations and indecent images which had been used by “David Paterson” to threaten her were seized by police.
His laptop was taken from his home in Prestwick and further conversations were discovered between the accused and his victims.
McBride admitted 38 charges of extortion. He also pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and possessing and distributing indecent photographs.court heard that McBride under his alias David Paterson accepted one 14-year-old girl as a friend on Facebook. To start with his messages to her were friendly, but they then turned sinister.
McBride threatened her saying: “If you don’t send me pictures of you naked. I’ll find you and rape you.”
He told her he knew her address and one one occasion he sent a chilling message telling her her window was open – which it was.
Another victim who was aged 15 was told by McBride he had pictures of her in her underwear and if she did not send him more he would put the ones he had on Facebook.
He told her he knew where she lived, which frightened her.
A third victim, aged 15, was threatened by the accused around Christmas 2012. He made her appear topless on a webcam threatening to slash her family and show topless pictures of her to her family if she did not go on webcam.
At one stage she Skyped the accused saying: “You are driving me to want to kill myself….” McBride using his later ego of David Paterson pestered a 13-year-old girl for a naked photograph and told her he was “randy” and “horny.”
She sent him a picture wearing her bra and another of her in her pants. McBride put one of the pictures on Facebook and named the girl.
He refused to take it offline until she went on webcam for him.
On January 2, 2013 he told the girl he had booked a room for them at the Fairfield Hotel and said he wanted her to meet up with him for sex. He told her if she did this he would delete the photographs he had of her.
She told the police that she felt like committing suicide.
Another girl, who was 17, befriended one of the accused’s aliases and initially he was friendly. But in June 2013 he sent her a message saying: “Why is your light on so late.” and asking her to close her windows.
The teenager was scared by this. She closed one of the windows and received another message stating: “Not that window the other one.”
McBride under his alias of Paterson contacted a 17-year-old girl and told her there was a photograph of her on a pornographic website called Xhamster.
She checked and saw there was a picture of her aged 12 or 13 wearing her school uniform.
The picture was not indecent, but Paterson threatened her, saying that if she did not go on camera for him and show her breasts or send naked pictures he would get more photos of her and put them on the porn site.
She refused, knowing there were no naked photographs of her, but felt very threatened, upset and scared.
McBride was aged between 15 and 20 when he carried out the offences. If one of his aliases was blocked by victims he sent messages from the others.
One of his first victims was a 13-year-old boy who willingly sent naked picture of himself and stripped and performed a sex on webcam.
The internet abuse of this boy lasted for four years. He went on webcam almost every night to stop his pictures being posted on Facebook.
The teenager became depressed, started to self-harm and on one occasion tried to kill himself.
Another teenage boy was aged between 15 and 17 when the accused – using the aliases David Paterson and Lindsey Smith – started to blackmail him.
He was told unless he did “sexually explicit things on camera” a naked photograph of him would be sent to his family and friends.
The boy told police he felt ‘utterly helpless and powerless.
He added it was a vicious cycle if he did sexually explicit things over the webcam “they’ would have more pictures of him naked that could be used to blackmail him.
He recalled trying to revise for exams and being made to stay up until 2am or 3am. He thinks he was coerced into performing on webcam around 50 times.
McBride has been placed on the sex offenders’ register. ends