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Renowned composer sentenced for posting pictures to pornographic site without victims’ permission

|News

A former BBC Young Composer of the Year has been given a suspended sentence for stealing clothed images of women from social media and uploading them to pornographic sites without their permission.

Alexander Woolf, a composer and freelancer who has previously worked at St John’s College, Cambridge, downloaded pictures of 15 victims from social media before posting them on pornographic sites and social media threads with sexually explicit and derogatory comments. None of the pictures were pornographic or indecent, but he asked users to photoshop his victims’ heads onto pornographic actresses’ bodies, which were then posted on adult websites.

One of Woolf’s victims was alerted to the posts in January 2021 by an anonymous email warning her that her picture was found on social media site Reddit and, then in March, on a pornographic website without her consent. The anonymous user suggested that the person who had posted the material was Woolf. 

The victim then found other pictures posted by Woolf and alerted other victims, who felt very distressed by seeing their images. The victims said Woolf’s actions have caused significant upset, distress and suffering.

Varinder Hayre, District Crown Prosecutor at the CPS, said:

“Woolf’s behaviour is severely depraved and reprehensible, especially as a person who works in a position of trust, and has had a drastic impact on his victims.

“We will always look to prosecute the sexual exploitation of victims and this prosecution is a clear message that this morally repugnant action will not be tolerated.

“I am especially pleased that Woolf has to delete all these pictures from his devices and will not be able to contact his victims ever again.”

Woolf admitted 15 charges of sending by means of a public electronic communications network messages that were grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing nature. He was given 20 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Monday (August 16). Woolf was also ordered to undertake a rehabilitation activity for 40 days, 40 sessions of a court-accredited sexual offending programme and 150 hours of unpaid work.

In addition, Woolf has to pay each of his 15 victims £100 compensation, as well as £85 costs and £128 victim surcharge. All victims’ pictures have to be deleted from his devices and he was given an indefinite restraining order prohibiting any contact with the victims. 

Woolf won the BBC Young Composer competition in 2012.

The CPS takes crimes of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) very seriously, which include harassment of this manner.

Notes to editors

  • Alexander Woolf (DOB: 30/05/1995) pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 26 July 2021 to 15 offences of sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character under Section 127(1)(a) and (3) of the Communications Act 2003.

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