Northern Ireland

Jay Donnelly expresses 'regret' over indecent image of child

Jay Donnelly Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jay Donnelly admitted the charge in December

Footballer Jay Donnelly deeply regrets distributing an indecent image of a child and wishes he "could turn back the clock", a Belfast court has heard.

Sentenced to four months in jail in January, the Cliftonville player tried to overturn his sentence on Friday.

His lawyer said Donnelly was "otherwise a decent young man" and "expresses his profound remorse for his actions".

The court heard that the 23-year-old has a low intelligence level, which is within the bottom 8% of the population.

WhatsApp group

The defence lawyer said: "Mr Donnelly is not sly, he is not cunning, he is not devious, he is not manipulative... he's a young man with limited abilities, very limited abilities."

The footballer took a photograph of a 16-year-old girl while they were having sex in June 2016.

At the time she was wearing a football shirt with his name and number on the back.

Donnelly sent the photograph to a friend and to a WhatsApp group that included fellow Cliftonville players.

The photograph was then leaked and appeared on Facebook.

The court was told that the victim in the case had been left feeling "physically ill and humiliated".

A prosecution lawyer said she agreed to wear Donnelly's football shirt and have sex with him, but she did not allow images of her to be shared.

Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, admitted the charge in November.

Although he was handed a jail sentence, he was granted bail pending appeal.

Donnelly has not played for Cliftonville since he was sentenced.

The former Cliftonville manager Barry Gray was in court on Friday and gave character evidence about Donnelly, saying he was "trustworthy and honest".

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