Suspended sentence for Dungiven man who groomed girls online

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A Dungiven man who assumed the identity of well-known celebrities to groom young girls to perform sexual acts, has received a suspended sentence.

Derry Crown Court heard that 28-years-old Austin Quigg persuaded young girls to strip naked for him on live webcam exchanges which he recorded.

They were aged between six-years-old and girls in their mid-teens.

Quigg, of Curragh Road in the town, pleaded guilty to a total of 20 offences committed between December 2006 and March 2012.

They include making indecent images of children, inciting children to engage in sexual activity and attempting to incite female children to engage in sexual activity.

The offences came to light in 2011 after one of the girls made a report to Staffordshire Police.

She reported that Quigg persuaded her to take all her clothes off and encouraged her to perform a sex act on herself.

On one occasion, she refused to go on camera and Quigg threatened to send naked photos to her boyfriend, which he then did.

Quigg’s home was searched and police seized his personal computer and his mother gave the officers his laptop.

The computers contained 90 indecent videos of children and 609 indecent photographs of children.

Almost all of the videos and photographs were categorised as being at the lower level in terms of seriousness.

Quigg had used the computers to search the internet for girls aged between 13 and 16 and would chat to them online whilst assuming the identity of well-known singers or celebrities before encouraging them to ‘expose themselves or worse’.

He also put two images of himself on the web exposing his genitals.

The defendant was interviewed by police in 2013 and made a number of admissions.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said this was “very serious, disturbing and concerning behaviour which was purely for your own gratification. You may well have been immature but you must have known what you were doing was very wrong.”

The judge said these type of offences would normally attract a two to three year prison sentence. However, Judge Babington said the because of the delay in this case, which he described as ‘completely unacceptable’, he did not intend to send Quigg straight to prison.

The judge suspended a two year sentence for two years. Quigg will also be subject to the notification of the sexual offences act for 10 years.