Whitby man stored indecent images of under-age girl taken from Snapchat on his phone

York Crown Court.
York Crown Court.

A teenager stored indecent images of an under-age girl and made a coded threat to share them online if she “caused him problems”, a court heard.

Robert Weatherill, 19, from Whitby, “screenshotted” a collection of naked Snapchat images of the teen on his phone, York Crown Court was told.

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When the girl asked him to delete the images, he refused, said prosecutor Ashleigh Metcalfe.

And when Weatherill suspected she might cause him “problems” because of his behaviour, he told her: “Just be careful.”

“That gave her the impression that he was intending to use the photos as a bargaining tool to either show them to others or to use them against her,” added Ms Metcalfe.

She said that Weatherill admitted as much when he was interviewed by police following his arrest in June last year.

Ms Metcalfe said the girl had taken the lewd images of herself including a video where she performed a sexual act on herself.

Weatherill took screenshots of the Snapchat images - including a dozen photos - then saved them to his iPhone’s camera roll.

The girl - who cannot be named for legal reasons - received an online notification warning her that her pictures had been screenshotted.

“She asked him to delete them, but he didn’t,” added Ms Metcalfe.

Weatherill, currently of no fixed abode, was charged with two counts of possessing indecent images of a child and one count of making indecent images between April and June last year.

He admitted the offences and appeared for sentence on Tuesday.

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The lewd video was rated Category A - the worst of its kind - and the 12 photos were either Category B or C.

In a victim statement, the girl said she had been “filled with dread” when she discovered that Weatherill had stored the photos on his phone.

She said that Weatherill - who was older than her by several years - told her: “Look what I’ve got on me – I’ll show others (the photos).”

She said she was “ashamed” of the images, adding: “I couldn’t bear the thought of others seeing them. It was such a relief when I heard the police had (Weatherill’s) phone.”

Ms Metcalfe said that Weatherill, a father-of-one, had four previous convictions for offences including serious violence and acquisitive crime.

In November 2018, he was convicted of burglary but was given a conditional discharge. Earlier this year, he was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but avoided jail again despite stamping on the victim’s head as he was laid on the ground.

James Fox-McGowan, for Weatherill, claimed his client had the images on his phone “as a means of insurance, not for sexual gratification”.

He said that Weatherill, who worked as a fisherman, had mental-health issues.

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Weatherill had a long-term partner who was pregnant, but they were currently living apart and the defendant was staying at a friend’s house where he slept on a sofa.

Judge Simon Hickey said it appeared that Weatherill had made a coded threat to the girl about “holding (the images) over her”.

But he said he could suspend the inevitable prison sentence because Weatherill had no similar previous convictions, had shown “clear remorse” and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

The eight-month prison sentence was suspended for two years, during which Weatherill will have to complete a 25-day rehabilitation course. He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years.