Victims recall being targeted as prolific 'catfisher' handed jail sentence

Two women who were targeted by a prolific cat-fisher say he made their lives hell and ruined long term relationships.

Along with other victims they watched on at Antrim Crown Court as he was handed an eight-year sentence for nearly 60 offences. He will spend just over four years in jail.

Phillip O'Shea, 32,  from Bush Rise in Bushmills, targeted up to 30 women over a 2 year period.

One told UTV: "He is the lowest of the low, even looking at him today. His eyes kept darting back and forward.

"When all the victims, one to 29 was read out, he never flinched, he never showed any emotion, he is just a serial perpetrator.

"To me that is never going to change if he is in prison for 8 or 18 years he will still be a dangerous man."

Another said: “To look at pictures of him there is evil in his eyes. When you look at him in person he would frighten the life out of anyone.

“Seeing him in court it was happy feeling because I knew that was him.

“He is a danger to other women and and even in the near future, regardless of what is put in place.

“He is going to keep committing the crimes because he has been doing it for so long.”

Having briefly outlined how O'Shea harassed 28 women, blackmailed 11 victims and disclosed the private sexual images of 13 of his victims to their family, friends, work colleagues and even their children, Antrim Crown Court was told his "treatment of the victims caused them great distress."

Giving an overview of each victim's ordeal during her 90-minute sentencing remarks, Judge McCormick described that in a general sense, O'Shea contacted the various victims through social media, sometimes using his own name but more often than not, using several aliases.

Initially started as friendly conversations the online chats, messages and phone calls "rapidly became flirtatious" where O'Shea "persuaded the victims to send images to him and most did so readily," said the judge.

The first victim told UTV: “This so called person made my life hell, it was around a Christmas period when you are supposed to be happy but that was taken away from me.

“He was very threatening, he was absolutely vile in the things he said and did.

“I was petrified at the time, I couldn't lift my phone, it was just crazy how in a couple of days someone could change your life.

“It was that serious I was afraid of other victims taking their own life because of this man.”

He made threats to kill when victims didn’t do what he wanted them to. One was told to stay away from her windows and that petrol bombs are a beautiful surprise.

One victim said: “When I stopped replying I got messages saying my car was on fire, my house was going, he was going to kill me.

“He rang my family to say he could see me.

“I got the nasty side right from the very start.

“At the start I tried to laugh it off, but when the threats and pictures started coming, it kind of spiralled from there.

“He put a wedge between me and my family. He ruined 20 year old friendships and my 5-year relationship.”

Both victims believe there are many more victims that have been targeted, and those 29 who have already come forward are just the tip of the iceberg.

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