• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Snapchat nudes scammer Lee Alexander’s case thrown out by Court of Appeal

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 16, 2022

A SNAPCHAT scammer who obtained nude photographs from a teenager had his bid to overturn his jail sentence thrown out.

Lawyers for Lee Alexander said the two year and nine month jail sentence imposed by an Oxford judge in May was manifestly excessive.

Gordana Austin, for 22-year-old Alexander, that Judge Ian Pringle KC took too high a starting point when considering what sentence to impose and failed to take account of her client’s mitigation, including his age and mental health difficulties.

Throwing out the appeal, Mr Justice Fraser said: “This is an unusual fraud case because there is no express financial impact. The victim here was not someone who suffered a financial loss and what in fact she provided cannot be equated to money value.

“The impact on her was something far greater and in a sense something money cannot buy or put right.”

Alexander, who appeared before the Royal Courts of Justice via video link from HMP Five Wells, rested his head on his hands as he was told his sentence would remain unchanged.

In May, the court heard that Alexander’s victim thought she was sending the images, which were sent via Snapchat, to a bona fide model agency – taking a number of semi-clothed and naked pictures in exchange for £90.

But the social media account was, in fact, being operated by then 20-year-old Alexander.

Within days of her sending the images, he messaged her from another account under a different name – claiming to have hacked the model agency’s Snapchat.

He demanded she send more explicit photographs, threatening to release the original photographs unless she did ‘what I tell you’. Rather than comply with the demand, the teenager contacted the police.

Alexander was arrested at his parents’ home in Thame on March 4.

He then repeatedly lied to detectives over the course of two police interviews.

Analysis of the various Snapchat and Instagram accounts Alexander had used revealed that they were accessed using the internet at his home.

The defendant, formerly of Lacey Drive, Thame, had been charged initially with blackmail and fraud. He changed his pleas at a late stage, admitting the fraud on a ‘full facts’ basis, and prosecutors dropped the blackmail allegation.

The judge took a starting point of three years’ imprisonment, saying the offence fell into category four in the Sentencing Council guidelines for fraud and the culpability was high. He reduced the sentence by 10 per cent for the late guilty plea.

The Court of Appeal upheld the approach taken by the Oxford judge, also noting that the sentencing guidelines were not ‘rigid tramlines’.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward