'Sexual predator' jailed after South Tyneside teenager tried to take her own life over naked pictures

A child tried to take her own life after she was blackmailed by a ‘sexual predator’ who threatened to post naked photographs of her onto the internet.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 3:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 7:10 pm
Tony Swift was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court.

Tony Swift befriended the teenager, from South Tyneside, over Blackberry messenger and convinced her to sent him intimate pictures, which he promised to delete.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when the victim refused the 34-year-old's demands for her to send graphic video footage, Swift threatened to publish the pictures he already had so her friends and family would see them on Facebook.

In a heartbreaking victim impact statement, the teen said she at first thought Swift, who said he was only 22, was "really nice" and "wanted to be friends".

But she added: "I was in a position I couldn't get out of. He had those pictures of me and he threatened to post them on social media so my friends and family would see if I didn't sent him videos and naked pictures of other girls.

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"I begged him and said I would do anything else. He kept putting more and more pressure on me and I didn't know what to do.

"I was frightened and I just wanted him to leave me alone. I didn't know what to do to make it all stop.

"I was crying and shaking and thought of my friends and family seeing the pictures he had of me."

The court the victim was "sick" at the thought Swift could have shared her pictures online and fears they could be on the internet forever.

As a result she was scared to go outside and added: "I had thoughts of ending my life. I even tried to kill myself. I was only a child. No child should ever have those thoughts."

The court heard the victim bravely informed the police about her ordeal and Swift was investigated.

Detectives discovered Swift, using a series of aliases, had targeted another victim in a similar cruel blackmail plot.

Swift, formerly of County Durham, was jailed for 45 months last year for the blackmail offences relating to that offence.

Today, Judge Julie Clemitson extended his jail term by a further 30 months after he pleaded guilty to blackmail and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The judge told him: "You threatened to post images, she had already sent you, on Facebook if she didn't send you the videos you wanted.

"Thankfully, she was sensible enough and perhaps mature enough to feel able to contact the police."

Judge Clemitson said the victim was caused "extreme anguish" and the effect on her, which included the attempt on her own life, "cannot be overstated".

The judge told Swift: "Blackmail is a particularly despicable and loathsome offence because of the mental anguish it causes to the victim.

"Here, your victim was a child, that is the serious aggravating factor.

"You are clearly a sexual predator. You clearly pose a significant risk of sexual harm to girls and vulnerable women."

Judge Clemitson said Swift must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Stephen Littlewood, defending Swift, said the pictures were not shared on the internet.

He added: "Those images have not been seen by vast amounts of people, they were never distributed."

Mr Littlewood said Swift has "made progress" in custody and is remorseful.