Guitarist, 27, stole intimate photos of his best friend's girlfriend

Besotted rock guitarist who hacked into the Snapchat account of his best friend’s girlfriend, stole her intimate photos and then bombarded her with them in sinister campaign avoids jail

  • Robert Leary, 27, was handed 12 week prison sentence suspended for two years 
  • He used dark web to access Snapchat log in details of his best friend’s girlfriend 
  • Leary then spent next two months bombarding her with her own intimate photos

A rock guitarist who hacked the Snapchat account of his best friend’s girlfriend to steal her intimate photos – before bombarding her with them as part of a sinister campaign – has been spared jail. 

The 26-year-old victim was repeatedly sent copies of the selfies coupled with explicit messages after musician Robert Leary, 27, used the dark web to get her log in details and password.

Over a period of two months Leary, from Crosby, Merseyside, tried to pressure the woman to send further pictures when she pleaded with him to delete them, telling her: ‘How much do I need to pay to see more?’

The victim also received one photo of an erect penis while she was at a children’s party with the message: ‘Think you can take it all?’

An NHS midwife targeted by a troll who stole her private pictures by hacking into her Snapchat account was shocked to discover the culprit was her boyfriend’s best friend Robert Leary (pictured) 

Over a period of two months Leary (pictured), from Crosby, Merseyside, tried to pressure the woman to send further pictures when she pleaded with him to delete them, telling her: ‘How much do I need to pay to see more?’

At Sefton magistrates court, Leary pleaded guilty to charges of computer hacking, harassment and sending offensive messages and images. He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay the victim £200 compensation.

He was also ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work, 25 days of rehabilitative activity and a six-month mental health treatment programme. 

Magistrates imposed a three-year restraining order, preventing him from contacting both the female victim and her partner. 

Bass guitarist Leary, who was training to be a teacher, even sent other images of the victim in partial undress to her horrified partner, asking him: ‘Do you know her?’ 

Police exposed Leary after the victim approached a cybercrime charity for help.

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In a statement the woman, who has since deleted her Snapchat account, said she was distraught that the images were ‘free for anyone to see’, and feared they would wreck her career. 

She and her partner were said to be in ‘complete shock’ when they learnt the identity of the troll.

‘He was my partner’s best friend for over 20 years,’ she said. ‘It was not a stranger or strangers as I had let myself believe and I was immensely upset and angry – it affected my partner profoundly.

‘It caused us to feel unsure about who we could trust. It is difficult to understand how someone so close could do this with no regard to the distress it would cause to us. 

‘It was the worst months of my life and it changed who I am. It increased my anxiety and I worry that nothing I do will ever be private again. It caused me to doubt my self worth.

‘Even the noise of Snapchat notifications on someone else’s devices, gives me an awful feeling in my stomach.’

The court heard the woman’s ordeal began after Leary logged onto an illegal website to hack into her account and found a ‘camera roll of photos of herself of a compromising nature.’

He downloaded them onto his own system, used four fake Snapchat accounts to send friend requests to the woman before sending the photos to her. 

In her statement read to the court the victim said: ‘A conversation started and I was sent a message of me partially naked and my heart dropped.

‘I could not understand how this stranger could have private pictures of me, especially as I hadn’t shared them with anyone. I pleaded with him to delete the images but I was told they would only be deleted if more exposed images were sent.

‘I was intensely anxious and worried, embarrassed, disgusted and alone. I felt sick at the thought that a stranger had somehow accessed private pictures of me. These images were private and were saved to my Snapchat account which is password protected.

‘I felt violated, my privacy was invaded and my body sexualised by a stranger. I had never felt so embarrassed or ashamed. I realised that my account had been hacked. I felt intense shame which prevented me from talking about it. I contacted a cybercrime charity and talked about what happened out of desperation.

Following her contact with the charity, the woman said that the matter was handed to police but just a week later, the messages continued with another image of herself from another Snapchat account, alongside the message: ‘How much do I need to pay to see more?’.

At Sefton magistrates court, Leary (pictured) pleaded guilty to charges of computer hacking, harassment and sending offensive messages and images. He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay the victim £200 compensation

She added: ‘I was distressed because they believed they were entitled to my body and only needed to offer money. It made me feel worthless. I quickly blocked that account. But later that evening, my worst fears came to reality. A message was sent to my partner ‘Do you know her?’ with more exposed images, images of myself. A conversation took place between them, while I cried and wondered ‘Why me?’

‘It could have been detrimental to my relationship. But luckily I have an understanding and supportive partner. Over the next week I had sleepless nights over fear what would happen next. Because multiple people were messaging, I believed my private images were free for people to look at. Every day I would worry who would contact me.

‘I am a healthcare professional who has worked extremely hard to get where I am. The worry of the damage those messages could do to my career was unbearable. It made me feel like a sexual object, disgusted and degraded.

‘Due to the distress I had no choice but to delete my Snapchat account, despite how much I have always enjoyed using it. The messages came through at family parties which should’ve been enjoyable.’

Leary had no previous convictions. His lawyer Clare Roach told JPs: ‘He is a well educated and well brought up young man, as you can see from his achievements in life but he found himself in a very very dark place. 

‘Not only has he destroyed his own life but that of the complainant and his ex friend.. Never once has he pulled back and tried to worm his way out of it. From the day of his arrest he has always accepted his guilt and remorse. He has never been in trouble before, never been in court before. Never had so much as a parking fine.

‘To say that he’s destroyed his life is an understatement. That goes nowhere to say that his darkness is by any means worse than that of the complainant. He knows he cannot take it back. He offers his apology.

‘He wants her to know how remorseful, ashamed and sorry he is, not only for the pain of the time, but what she continues to suffer from today.’

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