A WOMAN has told how her life was thrown into turmoil after her former partner posted naked pictures of her on online dating sites.
At Belfast Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, February 6, Ballyclare man Robert Wilson Drummond pleaded guilty to encouraging/assisting an offence to be committed.
The 41-year-old, from Grange Drive in the town, was found to have uploaded photographs of his former partner, Heather McIlwaine, onto an internet site in January, 2012 thereby “assisting the commission of an offence, namely harassment”.
District Judge Ken Nixon said he would consider pre-sentence reports ahead of sentencing Drummond on March 14.
Heather, a 41-year-old mother of two, told the Times she became paranoid and depressed after she found out that Drummond had posted the private images on the sexually explicit dating websites.
The former childcare worker said she had to give up her job and could not leave her home after she realised the nude pictures had appeared online alongside her phone number.
She said she and Drummond had began a relationship in 2008 and were planning to get married in December last year.
However, following the death of her father in December 2010 she realised Drummond was not the man she thought he was.
“His mask dropped, to me his attitude just changed completely. Things broke down and I realised he was not the man I wanted to marry any longer,” the Belfast woman explained.
“After it ended he sent me lots of text messages and kept calling me asking that we try again, but I said I didn’t want to.
“And then a few months later I got lots and lots of phone calls from people asking about what services I offered.”
It was only after a neighbour and good friend of Heather’s returned one of the calls that they realised naked pictures of her had been posted online.
“I was horrified,” continued Heather, who has two children aged, a son aged 22 and an 18-year-old daughter.
“I couldn’t believe It. I cried and cried and I couldn’t speak about it at all for a long time.
“I had to quit my job and I couldn’t leave the house because I was scared of who might have seen the pictures.
“I had to sit down and tell my kids what had happened which was not nice at all.
“I totally changed my appearance. I used to have long blonde hair, but I could not look at myself in the mirror.
“Even for my best friend’s wedding I could not make it out of the hotel room to attend because I just thought everyone would be laughing at me. To me I just felt that the whole world had seen these pictures and I couldn’t face it.”
Last week’s court hearing was the second time Drummond had been convicted of the offence. In May 2012 the Ballyclare man was convicted of uploading images to the internet sometime between February and August 2011. He was ordered to pay a £250 fine, something Heather described as “a slap on the wrist”.
However, she said the experience had made her stronger in the end.
“I just wanted to tell people my story so that they can think twice about what they are doing and who with.
“The whole experience has left me paranoid and depressed, but now I feel more empowered and stronger for having gone through it - but I am still terrified of who has seen what,” she added.