A computer hacker pretended to be a girl’s alleged rapist messaging her from a prison cell and warned: “I’ll be coming for you.”
Ryan Campbell infiltrated the social media accounts of three teenagers, including an ex-girlfriend whose life he made a misery.
The 21-year-old, of Smith Place, Kirkdale, first targeted a girl aged 12 or 13, after she refused to send him naked pictures of herself.
He took over her Facebook and Hotmail accounts and used the latter as part of his torment of a 16-year-old former partner.
But his crimes plunged new depths when he hacked a 15-year-old girl’s Facebook – then used the account to impersonate a man accused of raping her.
Liverpool Crown Court today heard this victim was so scared and depressed that she repeatedly attempted suicide.
Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said the first girl started talking with Campbell – aka “Ryantrickz” – on Snapchat, but she soon blocked him.
He said: “She explained that the individual threatened to hack into her account after she refused to send him naked pictures of herself.”
Campbell, who was then 17, changed the passwords of her Facebook and Hotmail accounts so she couldn’t access them.
He started a relationship with his second victim when she was 16, but after she challenged him about texting someone else, became “aggressive and threatening”.
Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what’s on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here.
She tried to end the relationship, but Campbell persuaded her he would change, only for the abuse to continue. When she next tried to leave him, he threatened to harm himself.
Mr Slack said: “He also claimed to have pictures of her that she would not want people to see and threatened to put these on the dark web if she left him.”
The victim said Campbell was “very good” on computers and could manipulate things to look like something they were not, so she stayed with him out of fear.
He controlled where she could go and who she could see, wouldn’t let her talk to male friends, and called her fat and ugly, lowering her self-esteem.
She saw him hack into the account of his next victim, aged 15, and he revealed how he could send messages from his phone, but make it look like they came from another device.
His girlfriend later discovered he used her phone to contact this child via Snapchat, so took screenshots of some messages and gave them to police.
She split up with him, but Campbell, now 18, sent texts telling her to kill herself and pictures showing a razor blade next to his wrist, then self-harm images, sent via the first girl’s hacked email account.
He finally hacked into her social media accounts, causing her to shut them down, and she self-harmed as a result.
His final victim had made an allegation of rape against a man, who was charged and remanded into custody.
While this man was being held on remand, Campbell hacked the girl’s Facebook account and changed the password.
She messaged her account via a friend’s page and asked who he was and what he was doing.
Campbell pretended he was the alleged rapist, prompting her to ask: “You’re in prison, so how you on this?”
He replied “ya little grass – watch when I’m out” then sent a voice recording of the alleged rapist, who the girl believed was threatening her from his cell.
When she responded “no why you on this account get away from me”, he replied “I’ll be coming for you” and when she asked “how you even on this?” he replied with a smiling, winking emoji.
The victim created a new Facebook account, only for Campbell to message her from her old one, now claiming the alleged rapist had been released because “I deleted all the evidence”.
When the girl said police had evidence against her alleged attacker, Campbell said: “Funny way I hacked police database LMAO you dumb f***.”
Mr Slack said: “She replied to the effect that she could not believe the hacker was trying to get a rapist out of prison, to which the defendant responded ‘he is already out, going to his today’, followed by ‘then he might want to pay you a visit’.”
To keep up to date with crime in your local area use your postcode below
The girl said: “It was just playing over and over in my mind, like I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know if he was in jail or if he was out and he was going to come for me, or if it was him on the Facebook account, or if it was someone else.”
The victim, who was already suffering from stress and depression, said she tried to take her life on several occasions.
Mr Slack said the girl self-harmed and considered no longer supporting the prosecution against her alleged rapist.
This man was eventually acquitted, when prosecutors offered no evidence against him.
When arrested and interviewed in September 2017, Campbell denied abusing his girlfriend and denied hacking people’s accounts.
The former IT student suggested another person had hacked his account and this individual was responsible for his crimes – later providing digital evidence to police to support his claim.
We have launched a Facebook group to bring you the latest stories from court all in one place.
It will feature reports from Liverpool Crown Court and cases connected to Merseyside.
To join and get updates, click here.
You can also follow our court reporter’s Facebook page.
Judge Gary Woodhall said the police and Crown Prosecution Service were not to blame for delays in Campbell’s case, adding: “It’s his own fault for not admitting it.”
This year, Campbell admitted three counts of unauthorised access to computer material, one count of controlling or coercive behaviour and one count of witness intimidation. He was not charged with any sexual offence in relation to the first girl.
He has no previous convictions, but received a warning from police in 2016 for hacking into another child’s social media account.
Jonathan Duffy, defending, said in the time since his offences, his client now accepted how serious they were and had not contacted any of the girls again.
He said Campbell, who had built the majority of his friendships online “rather than in the real world”, had sought help for social anxiety and depression.
Mr Duffy said Campbell reported feeling depressed and threatened to kill himself, but was not diagnosed with any mental health problems.
He urged the judge to spare him jail and said: “He’s allowed what has been for him an online fantasy world to trespass into the reality of people who at that time he now accepts were extremely vulnerable.”
Judge Woodhall said Campbell’s actions towards his former partner were “designed to cause as much upset, torment and disruption to her life as possible”.
He said the offences against the third girl were particularly serious because she considered not pursuing the allegations of rape.
Can you help us keep Merseyside covered?
The judge said Campbell hadn’t learned from his warning from police and in a pre-sentence report denied aspects of the offence, blamed the victims and “suggested someone else was somehow responsible”, although he no longer maintained these assertions.
Judge Woodhall said: “That demonstrates in my view a complete lack of remorse by you and how you continue to seek to try to divert blame and responsibility from yourself.”
He jailed Campbell for 20 months, who showed no emotion as he was sent down.
Get your CompTIA A+, Network+ White Hat-Hacker, Certified Web Intelligence Analyst and more starting at $35 a month. Click here for more details.