Ryan Le Couteur (26) appeared via video link in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday after being charged with computer misuse and breaching the telecommunications law.
His victim, the court heard, had left the Island after being too paranoid to walk through town or get on a bus.
Instead of one year in custody, he was sentenced to 180 hours of community service, added to the sex offenders’ register for a minimum of five years and put on probation for 18 months.
He has also been ordered to pay his victim £5,000 in compensation, and a restraining order has been put in place, stopping the defendant from meeting or contacting the victim.
Police legal adviser Simon Crowder, prosecuting, told the court that in May 2017, over the course of several months, Le Couteur turned up at the victim’s address on multiple occasions with the victim describing his behaviour as ‘harassing’.
On one occasion, the court heard, the victim found an unsent email addressed to the defendant on her phone containing around 50 private photos. She later received messages on Facebook from people who she had supposedly been speaking to on a dating app. However, Mr Crowder said the victim did not have an account on the app.
After she confronted Le Couteur, the victim claimed that he allegedly made a number of admissions including setting up the Tinder account, which he had used to message between five to six men and five to six women, and creating a fake Facebook account in order to create the dating app account.
Mr Crowder also told the court that in June 2019 the victim was approached in a takeaway by a man in his 40s who thought that he had been speaking to her on WhatsApp and had been sent photos of the victim.
Advocate Lorraine McClure, defending, said her client now recognised the serious nature of his offending and that he expressed his deep remorse to the victim and had provided a letter of apology to the court.
She also made reference to how her client was of previous good character, had a ‘solid’ employment history and a good network of family and friends to support him and would seek counselling to address his behaviour.
Although he had lost his job, she said he remained committed to finding new employment and fully complied with his bail conditions and the police.
In sentencing, Magistrate Bridget Shaw described the offending as ‘very serious’ and ‘sexually aggravated’, and told Le Couteur he had ‘wholly disrupted and changed’ his victim’s life.
‘You could be sending them [pictures] to people who are at a high risk of committing an offence – these could be people who want to commit offences against her. You left her in a terrible state and in the end she left the Island.’
She added: ‘These offences are serious enough for custody, at the top end of the Magistrate’s Court’s sentencing powers. At this stage you are a dangerous young man in how you pose a risk of causing serious sexual harm. However, I have read very carefully the social inquiry report and I am prepared to make a community service order and probation order to make you address your offending.’