An Irish League footballer is due to begin his appeal against a four-month prison sentence after being convicted of sharing an indecent image of a child.

Cliftonville striker Jay Donnelly, 23, of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, admitted the charge last November at Belfast Magistrates’ Court and on January 10, District Judge Amanda Henderson sentenced him to jail.

Donnelly was granted bail of £500 pending an appeal against the sentence.

During the hearing, it emerged that in June 2016 Donnelly had taken a photograph, described in court as “extremely intimate”, of a 16-year-old girl wearing his club’s football shirt during a sexual act.

He then shared the image with a friend, and also with a group of 11 other people via the messaging service Whatsapp. It was later leaked on social media.

The judge said it was such a “gross invasion of privacy” that the only appropriate sentence was an immediate custodial sentence.

The appeal against the sentence is due to start on Friday morning at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.