A convicted sex-offender who was to stand trial on multiple charges committed while under strict court orders to prevent such offending, has changed his plea and admitted the majority of offences in a vast cybercrime investigation.
When first charged the number of victims was three but this soared to 34, the majority of whom were female, with all targeted through online offending, despite the accused being banned from accessing the internet as part of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) imposed for serious previous convictions of a similar nature although not as wide-reaching.
Ryan Eastwood (30) from Coolnagard View, Omagh originally faced to 62, half of which related to unauthorised access to computer material, while the rest included attempted intimidation, attempting to cause persons to engage in sexual activity, disclosing sexual images, breaching the SOPO and attempted blackmail.
At the most recent sitting of Dungannon Crown Court, Eastwood appeared by video-link from custody, where he has been held since his arrest, switching his previous denials to admitting 49 of charges.
A prosecuting lawyer confirmed the remaining matters would be left on the court books.
Offending occurred on various dates between October 2019 and June 2022.
Judge Richard Greene KC described the case as “multi-stranded with a number of different types of offending” and ruled pre-sentence reports were essential.
He remanded Eastwood in continuing custody until sentencing on November 7.
Although no details surrounding the circumstances of offending were disclosed, court papers show Eastwood managed to access the social media accounts of some victims in one instance falsely claiming to be an employee with Ann Summers lingerie company to obtain images.
The SOPO breaches relate to Eastwood accessing an internet-capable device and engaging with females on social media, both of which he was expressly banned from doing, but according to court papers was ongoing for two years before his offending was discovered.
The SOPO was first imposed in 2019 when Eastwood was convicted of voyeurism after posing as a modelling agency owner, using a similar email to a legitimate company, to persuade a woman to undress during an online “interview.”
The victim however became suspicious and alerted police.
The judge on that occasion told Eastwood: “You looked for satisfaction in causing stress and humiliation. You maintained social interaction was your motivation but it’s clear, like most sex offenders, your motivation was based on abuse of power. You are a bully.”
He was jailed and made subject to sex-offender registration as well as the SOPO, which among multiple terms, banned access to any internet device, camera or computer.
There was also a ban on developing online relationships with women.
However, in 2021 investigations were launched after two victims in England reported their Instagram and Snapchat accounts had been “compromised”.
An email address on one victim’s account was linked to an internet provider at Eastwood’s home, although in his mother’s name.
He was arrested and a search recovered a number of internet-capable devices, of which two were “actively paired to the home Wi-Fi, plugged in and powered-up in the defendant’s bedroom, namely a Smart television and an Amazon Fire TV stick.”
Paperwork relating to one compromised victim’s email address was also found during the search.
He later admitted engaging with a female on social media without the approval of his Designated Risk Manager between October 4, 2019 and November 29, 2021 – indicating offending recommenced just a short time after he was sentenced for the previous matter,
Jailed for three months at Omagh Magistrates’ Court the judge said Eastwood “managed by some electronic means to get his email address linked into someone else’s account to access their information. That takes a lot of planning and know-how”.
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