A former soldier who sent a naked picture of his ex-girlfriend to her mother has been spared jail.
Barry McLaren, 48, shared the picture of his ex to her mum after the pair split in January 2019 following an assault.
McLaren, who is now a nautical engineer, continued to stay in touch with his ex after moving out as they shared dogs.
However, he became inappropriate towards his victim and angry, taking out revenge by sharing a naked bondage photo of his ex to her mum.
Angela Conlan, prosecuting, told the court that on August 14 last year his ex had been home, checked her mobile and received a picture from McLaren.
The picture was one which she believed had been taken three years ago when they were together.
Ms Conlan said the victim felt “completely shocked” and “sick”, having believed he had deleted the photo immediately after it was taken.
The former soldier, who has served in Bosnia, threatened the woman, telling her if she didn’t stop getting letters sent to his mum’s house, he would “talk to her mum”.
After the incident, his ex called McLaren’s mum and organised for the phone bills to stop being sent to her house.
The victim then heard from her own mother, who said someone had sent a naked photo claiming it was her daughter.
She sent a copy of the picture to the victim, and she discovered that it was the photo that McLaren had taken three years prior.
The victim notified police of the photograph, telling officers he was “completely controlling” when they were together.
At Liverpool Magistrates’ Court Ms Conlan read out a victim statement from the victim’s mother.
She said: “When I opened the message it was of a nude female, although I couldn’t see her head.”
An accompanying message said the picture was of her daughter, prompting her to send her a message.
Her mother said she was “disgusted” and “horrified” and that it “shocked me through and through”.
McLaren, of Howell Drive, Greasby, has a previous conviction relating to excess alcohol in 2019 but no similar offences.
District Judge Paul Healey discussed with John Brown, defending, which category of culpability the offence fell into – determining how serious the sentence passed would be.
Mr Brown submitted that the offence should fall into the lower category of culpability as McLaren entered a prompt guilty plea and has no similar convictions.
What is revenge porn?
Revenge Porn refers to the sharing of explicit or sexual, images or videos, without the consent of the person in the image with the aim of causing them embarrassment or distress.
Sharing these images online, over text, email, social media and showing physical photos to other all comes under the offence.
The offence is known as disclosing private sexual images without consent and was first introduced in 2015.
Help for victims
There are a number of charities which can help victims of revenge porn.
Among them is a specific revenge porn helpline which offers advice and support for victims.
If you’ve been a victim of revenge porn you can report it to police on 101 or online.
What is the punishment?
The maximum sentence is two years in prison depending on the level of offending.
He also submitted that while serious offending, the picture was not shared on a social media platform, but with one person.
Discussing the 48-year-old’s personal circumstances, Mr Brown explained that he had previously served in the armed forces in the quick response unit where he was subject to direct fire and sustained injuries to his legs.
Mr Brown said: “He suffered mental and physical scars and had to leave because of injuries. He still has scars on the back of his legs from shoot outs.”
The court heard that McLaren now works as a nautical engineer and when he can work it is mainly abroad.
McLaren was arrested for the offence on his return from Germany and was forced to return due to the coronavirus crisis.
The 48-year-old’s first appearance should have taken place in March, however due to the pandemic it was postponed.
McLaren has suffered from PTSD following his active service and has encountered problems with his relationships.
The former soldier has received help from the British Legion, an organisation which he continues to seek support from.
He has also suffered serious headaches and attended hospital in relation to them on June 30, following which he is awaiting the results of numerous tests.
Mr Brown explained that there were some issues over him seeing the dogs, which had an impact on his mental health, however, he was allowed to see them on his return from work abroad.
Following the incident, McLaren apologised profusely and probation rated him as a low risk of reoffending.
Judge Healey said that to send such a picture to the victim’s mother was a “particularly unpleasant and cruel thing to do.”
He accepted the prompt guilty plea and that there were no similar previous convictions.
He said: “This offence involved intention to cause distress and humiliation to the victim and that’s clear here.”
Judge Healy accepted that the offence fell into the category of lesser culpability and ordered McLaren to an eight week sentence suspended for 18 months.
He must complete a building better relationships programme and 180 hours of unpaid work as well as pay £85 in costs and a £90 victim surcharge.
A restraining order was also imposed preventing the 48-year-old from getting in touch with his victim in any form.