A PHOTOGRAPHY student drove a young woman to the edge of suicide by pestering her to send him indecent pictures of herself on Facebook.
Dale Hughes-Tyson even pretended to be his pregnant girlfriend in online messages, leaving the girl distraught that she could be in trouble for what she had done.
But after hearing how the 20-year-old defendant had recently been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome a judge decided not to jail him.
Swindon Crown Court was told that Hughes-Tyson had known his victim from his time growing up in Cumbria, but they had been out of touch for years.
He contacted her over Facebook, complimenting her on her appearance, telling her ‘secrets’ about himself to gain her trust, and asking if she had a boyfriend.
“She said she did, but was not good enough for him,” Charles Thomas, prosecuting, said.
“He was aware from the outset that this was a lady who suffered from low self-esteem.”
He pestered her to pose for him, saying it was for his photography course, and when she finally gave in to the pressure he told her it was good for her confidence.
As the months went by his requests then became more explicit.
He then said his pregnant girlfriend had found the pictures and contacted her pretending to be his partner saying she could be in trouble for what she had done.
“She was put in a position where she would get in trouble if she told, or would be ruining the life of an unborn child and his girlfriend,” he said. “She was desperate, very upset, desperate for the matter to be closed. The defendant showed what can only be described as a callousness.
“Despite her telling him she was terrified and was desperate for it not to happen, he then made a series of further sexual demands of her.
“She said ‘If you are going to blackmail me I might as well kill myself now’. At one point he said ‘It’s not blackmail, I’m simply manipulating you’.
“The matter continued for some time. She continued to say that she was desperate, said she was already under the care of a psychiatrist.
“She had clear mental health difficulties. The defendant was completely uncaring in aspects of what she told him.
“Later that morning she self harmed, slashing her wrists and arms a number of times with razor blades, then calling the police for help as she felt there was nowhere she could turn to. A young lady driven to the very extreme of emotional distress by what was said to her on Facebook on that morning."
Hughes-Tyson, of Bosham Close, Toothill, pleaded guilty to putting a person in fear of violence through harassment.
Mark Glendenning, defending, said his client admitted what he had done when confronted and had not really believed her when she said she was depressed.
“It is a bit like pilots dropping bombs, the immediate consequence wasn’t there for him to see and he pressed on,” he said.
Since the offence he said Hughes-Tyson had sought medical help and had been diagnosed with Asper-ger’s which may account for his lack of empathy.
Judge Douglas Field said: “You effectively groomed this young lady first of all by sending her compliments and you were encouraging her to assist you in your college studies of photography.
“In the course of these messages you put more and more pressure on her to send you revealing photographs in the end asking for pornographic photographs.
“You must have known that she was a vulnerable young woman. In the end she was pleading with you to stop but you carried on. She snapped and ended up trying to end her life.
“Against that you were only a young man of 19 and had not been in trouble before. There is a psychiatric report and you do suffer from Asperger’s and have difficulties with social interaction.”
He sentenced him to a six month jail term, suspended for a year, with supervision and also imposed a five year restraining order preventing him from contacting the victim.