Northern Ireland

‘Why are you doing this to me?’: Pleas from young girl reveal trauma caused by catfishing sexual abuser and killer McCartney

Newry man Alexander McCartney pleads guilty to manslaughter, blackmail and sexual abuse of young girls

Alexander McCartney has admitted the manslaughter of a 12-year-old girl who took her own life after being blackmailed by the Newry man .

Messages discovered by investigators illustrate the deep trauma suffered by the victims of Alexander McCartney, with desperate pleas from one young girl to stop hurting and tormenting her.

McCartney (26) and from Lissummon Road just north of Newry, has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a 12-year-old girl who died by suicide in the United States and more than 180 other charges, including blackmail and sexual offences involving children.

The trauma caused was revealed in one exchange with a victim in late 2015 when McCartney was 17.

In a series of messages, the girl pleaded “please just leave me alone”, “you said you deleted those pics”, “I hate doing this”, “why are you doing this to me?”, “you are hurting me” and “why, so you can torment me?”.

The messages were submitted by prosecutors to the Crown Court during an unsuccessful bid by the defence to have a “no bill” entered in relation to a number of the charges, essentially asking they be dropped.

This exchange happened nearly two and a half years before contact was made with a 12-year-old girl in the US. Over four days in May 2018, McCartney blackmailed the young girl. She then took her own life.

Her family did not know why she took her own life until deep into the PSNI investigation. McCartney was charged with manslaughter in 2022.

The investigation first began in 2018 following a report to police in Scotland of the blackmailing of another 12-year-old girl. Detectives later identified and arrested McCartney while seizing several devices, including a computer and a mobile phone.

The bodies have until May 31 to meet the recommendations made to improve their responses
Detectives seized several devices as they arrested McCartney following the start of the investigation in 2018 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Thousands of images of young girls in “various states of dress and undress, performing various sexual acts”, along with details of his exchanges with the vulnerable victims were discovered, it emerged in previous court hearings.

McCartney, then about to go into his final year as a computer science student at Ulster University, Jordanstown, first appeared before Newry Magistrates Court in August 2019.

The initial charges covered the period from January 2018 to July 2019. At subsequent court hearings, McCartney pleaded guilty to over 180 charges spanning a period from 2013 to 2019.

McCartney has been in custody since the 2019 court appearance. Following his initial arrest and release on police bail, he attempted to reel in more victims on Snapchat, the very next day, the court in Newry heard.

As police were arresting him before being remanded in custody, McCartney was discovered with the Snapchat open on a device he was barred from possessing with communications made in the early morning hours.

One court also heard the accused had already run away from home to Dublin, leaving a note saying “I can’t take it any more”. He returned some days later.

While Snapchat was the application he used most widely, McCartney also attempted to contact victims, many of them aged between 10 and 12, via Facebook and WhatsApp.

G1CEKC Snapchat app icon on mobile phone.
McCartney used Snapchat to contact and torment his victims (Alamy Stock Photo)

According to prosecutors, McCartney would use fake online identities to befriend the children, persuade them to send mages then issued the threat: “All right, I’m a catfish... you are going to do as I say or I will show your nudes for all the world to see.”

Mr Justice John O’Hara, announcing he would sentence McCartney later this year, said he wanted “a comprehensive list of all the offences compiled person-by-person”.

“That’ll show the timescale and the number of girls to whom it happened,” the judge said.