Facebook blackmailer William Wooles spared jail

Man using Facebook on a laptop
Image caption Wooles posted the naked photos on his victim's Facebook page after she failed to answer his threats

A student who blackmailed a woman by hacking into her email, stealing naked pictures of her and posting them on Facebook has been spared jail.

William Wooles, 20, of Great Dunmow in Essex, admitted blackmail and computer misuse at Manchester Crown Court.

The Leeds University student was given two years imprisonment suspended for two years for the blackmail offences.

He was also sentenced to one year in prison suspended for a year to run concurrently for the misuse charges.

Police said Wooles had contacted his victim, a student from Manchester, on 15 May last year after hacking into her email account and finding intimate images she had sent to her then boyfriend via email which remained in her sent items folder.

Wooles wrote that he had "found some interesting things" on her account and wanted her to send more intimate images of her or he would publish the images he had online.

'Disgusting betrayal'

The initial message, a subsequent threat and a third message - which read "Sorry, this could have been avoided if you just sent me what I asked for" - were not found by the girl until 22 May, as they had been filtered into her junk items folder.

The victim then logged into Facebook to find the nude pictures had been posted on her profile page and could be seen by her 1,000 friends.

She contacted police, who traced Wooles via his IP address - the unique numeric label attached to his computer - and arrested him at his halls of residence in Leeds.

While being interviewed, Wooles admitted threatening to do the same thing to another woman after hacking into her email, though he never published her pictures.

Det Con Ian Wrench said the offences were "a disgusting betrayal of two girls' most private intimate moments".

"We can all imagine the emotional damage, not to mention embarrassment, of having private images posted all over your Facebook page for loved ones and friends to see," he said.

He added: "What this case does highlight is the need for careful consideration of online passwords.

"Everyone needs to be aware that security question answers are sometimes easily guessed and it is imperative that people use the highest standards of care when choosing passwords."

Alongside the suspended sentences, the 20-year-old was also given 150 hours community service, a restraining order banning him from contacting his victims and an order to forfeit his laptop for destruction.

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