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COLERAINE : ‘Fake Model Agency’ Man Has Case Returned To Crown Court

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PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON

A man accused of using a fake modelling agency to allegedly persuade women to undress and perform sexual acts has had his case sent to Antrim Crown Court.

Ryan Eastwood (24), whose address was originally given as Grasmere Mews in Coleraine, but who also had an Omagh address listed on court documents, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday. He faces 23 charges including nine of harassment of females; five of causing a person to engage in a sexual act and five of voyeurism.

He also faces two charges of attempting to cause a person to engage in sexual activity involving ‘posing without underwear’ and undressing and two charges of attempting to intimidate a person to engage in sexual activity. The offences are alleged to have occurred on various dates between 2015 and 2017.

Previously, a police officer told an earlier court sitting in Limavady that the accused allegedly set up a Facebook account to contact a number of alleged victims and “interview” them on Skype. An alleged target ended up naked and carrying out a sex act, the detective had claimed. It was further alleged that at least one other woman engaged in a similar action.

The detective constable told Limavady Court: “The females have been left very traumatised, leaving some of them seeking medical help and counselling.”

The accused was allegedly linked at that court to an account on Facebook, listed as recruiting models.

One victim told police she spoke to a man with an Irish accent who called himself ‘Matthew’ and held a Skype “interview”, the detective constable said. The Limavady court heard Eastwood allegedly asked the woman to pose fully clothed; then in underwear; then naked, and asked her to perform a sexual act.

Police identified the internet provider used by the person calling himself ‘Matthew’ and alleged it was linked to the accused’s IP address. The Limavady court heard Eastwood told detectives he had not used Skype since he was 16 and denied any knowledge of the offences. He also denied any knowledge of the Facebook account. When police made searches of devices, they allegedly located 17,500 images of women, most deleted but still stored as thumbnails.

The detective constable told the earlier hearing: “It became more apparent that we had a number of other potential victims.” Police contacted a company in London which the suspect allegedly based his fake agency on.The firm provided investigators with details of women who had contacted them reporting similar cases.

Eastwood argued that someone was setting up the accounts in his name, the court in Limavady had heard.

At Coleraine Court on Monday, District Judge Liam McNally held there was a case to answer and returned the defendant to Antrim Crown Court in April for arraignment.

Eastwood was released on bail.

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