‘He ruined my life’: Royal Marine reveals how he had his car attacked and was abused in the street after stranger stole his online ID to send explicit pictures to horrified women
- Graeme Brandon stole Royal Marine Commando Steele Saunders’ photograph
- He used the photograph to create a bogus WhatsApp profile to contact women
- Brandon took an obscene photograph of his genitals to send to his 27 victims
- Mr Saunders said people shouted ‘paedo’ at him and vandalised his car
- Bournemouth Crown Court sentenced Brandon to 30 months in prison
Graeme Brandon, 43, from Bournemouth stole an image from the Facebook page of Royal Marine Commando Steele Saunders and used it to create a fake WhatsApp profile
A Royal Marine wept after a fraudster who stole his identity in order to send lewd images of himself to women was jailed.
Graeme Brandon, 43, from Bournemouth, stole an image from the Facebook page of Royal Marine Commando Steele Saunders and used it to create a fake WhatsApp profile.
The painter and decorator used Gumtree to obtain mobile numbers of 27 random women before sending them images of his erect penis via WhatsApp.
Breaking down in tears at Bournemouth Crown Court, Mr Steele said: ‘The thought that people were doubting me was unbearable.
‘There have been incidents when I was out with my family that people recognised my face and started shouting things like “Paedo” towards me.
‘I have had my car damaged, nails in tyres and wiper blades pulled off.
‘I have had numerous threats from people who contacted me believing I was responsible and I have felt helpless in trying to clear my name and trying to convince people I was not responsible.
Steele Saunders, a Royal Marine Commando, wept in court and said he has has been the target of threats from people who wrongly thought he was responsible for sending the explicit images
‘As a direct result of what has happened it is hard to put down into words the effect this had had on my life and my mental health.’
Police investigating the case soon realised that many of the victims had put their telephone numbers on Gumtree while advertising goods for sale.
The first women came forward in January 2017 with other women also complaining about indecent images they had been receiving on their telephones.
Detectives soon determined the indecent images were the same photograph.
In April 2017, Steele Saunders also approached Dorset Police to complain that his photograph had been stolen and used on a fake WhatsApp profile being used to send explicit images.
The court heard the messages left the women, who were aged between 27 and 75, feeling ‘distressed and violated’.
As well as the indecent photos, Brandon also threatened some of the female victims by telling them he ‘knew where they lived’ and that he was ‘coming to get them’.
Bournemouth Crown Court, pictured, heard Brandon’s victim Steele Saunders was deployed abroad with the Royal Marine Commandos when the first obscene photographs were sent
Detectives arrested Brandon on October 4, 2017 and seized several mobile phones and computers.
However, following his release on bail, further women continued to receive the same explicit image.
He was arrested again in March 2018 when police searched his home and found two pay-as-you-go phones used to send the messages hidden behind a radiator
Mark Gammon, senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service said: ‘Identity theft is an insidious crime, which has a traumatising and long lasting impact on victims’ lives.
‘Graeme Brandon stole someone’s identity and used it to send pictures of his private parts to a number of women, causing them shock and upset.
‘Not only did he cause the women to be disgusted and shocked when they received these unsolicited indecent pictures, but he also showed cowardice by using someone else’s identity.
‘This case has had a devastating impact on the man whose identity was stolen by Graeme Brandon.
‘The victim had a successful career in the Royal Marine and was about to be deployed to a foreign country when people from his community and friends started angrily to contact him saying that they had received pictures of an explicit nature.
‘He and his wife started suspecting family and friends as they could not understand how their pictures could have been accessed from their Facebook account.
‘Graeme Brandon’s deplorable actions had a detrimental effect not only on the victim’s career but also on his mental health.
‘His wife’s career was also affected as well as their everyday lives, as their friends and their community thought he was guilty.
‘We hope that this conviction and sentence will bring some comfort to the male victim and his family and to all the women to whom he sent the unsolicited indecent pictures.’
Brandon pleaded guilty to 28 counts of sending indecent images and one offence of unauthorised access to computer data.
He was sentenced to 30 months in jail.
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