Jailed striker suspended by Irish Football Association

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By Rebecca Black, Press Association

A jailed footballer has been handed a temporary suspension by the Irish Football Association.

Jay Donnelly was sentenced to three months in prison at Belfast County Court last Tuesday, after an appeal judge reduced his original four-month term by one month.

Donnelly, 24, of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, was convicted for sharing an indecent image of a child.

He admitted the charge in November at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

His former Belfast club, Cliftonville, announced last week that it had terminated Donnelly's contract with immediate effect.

On Tuesday the Irish FA announced it was suspending him from all affiliated football until September 1.

"The disciplinary committee of the Irish FA has today charged Jay Donnelly with a breach of Article 17 of the Articles of Association (bringing the game of association football into disrepute) and suspended him from all affiliated football until September 1 2019," a spokesman said.

"Mr Donnelly has the right to challenge the charge and/or sanction."

In June 2016, Donnelly took a photograph of himself having sex with a 16-year-old girl who was wearing a Cliftonville shirt with his name and number on the back.

He shared the image with a friend and with a number of fellow players on the messaging service WhatsApp. It was later leaked on social media.

After last Tuesday's hearing Donnelly apologised to his victim.

In a statement issued by his solicitor, he said he accepted the court's decision.

"I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the hurt that my action caused," he said.

"This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life."

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