Northern Ireland

Jay Donnelly's jail term reduced by a month

Jay Donnelly Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jay Donnelly had been on bail pending the outcome of his sentence appeal

Footballer Jay Donnelly has had his sentence for distributing an indecent image of a child reduced from four months to three months.

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

The 23-year-old admitted the charge in November and was sentenced to four months in January.

Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, had been on bail pending the outcome of his sentence appeal.


Judge David McFarland reduced the sentence on Tuesday, but declined to suspend it.

He said a custodial term was appropriate, given the need to send out a strong "deterrent" to others.

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

The photograph was then leaked and appeared on Facebook.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) said it would now consider whether Donnelly had brought the game into disrepute.

"The safeguarding of children remains the highest priority of the association and our sympathy is with the victim and her family in this case," it added.

Cliftonville FC said the club's management committee would "take cognisance of the final judgement, related matters, the input of relevant bodies and will follow the required club disciplinary procedures".

It said it wished to reiterate, "as outlined in previous statements, that Cliftonville FC recognises the impact that this has had on the victim and her family".

"We condemn such actions without question," it added.

After the hearing, Donnelly issued a statement through his solicitor in which he apologised to the victim.

"I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the hurt that my action caused," he said.

"This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life."

Donnelly added: "I also want to thank my girlfriend, my family and my friends for the support they have shown me throughout this case.

"This is something I wish to move on from following my sentence, and I ask that my family are allowed to move on also, and are given privacy to do so."

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