A MAN who posted a topless picture of a woman onto Facebook has narrowly avoided being sent to prison after causing his victim significant embarrassment and distress.

Simon Bell bombarded the woman with emails while threatening to publish the picture just days after his father had died.

The 57-year-old subsequently published the photograph in the early hours of the morning while under the influence of drink, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said the defendant sent more than 40 emails to his victim over a two-day period, some threatening to post the image onto the social media site and then another telling her he had posted the topless image.

He said: "She contacted him and told him (Bell) 'if you post it, it would be classed as revenge porn'.

"It had been posted on Facebook and was available for all the the public to see."

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she had been left 'mortified and embarrassed' by what happened to her with friends and family being able to see the post.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was left suffering from depression as a result of his behaviour.

Bell, of Ashlands Road, Northallerton, pleaded guilty to one charge of disclosing sexual photographs when he appeared at an earlier hearing.

Alexandra Clancy, in mitigation, said her client had been struggling with the pressures of his father’s death at the time of the offence and had since moved away from the area where his victim lives.

She urged the judge not to pass an immediate custodial sentence saying her client has a 'strong prospect of rehabilitation'.

Judge James Brown passed a 15-week prison sentence but suspended it for 18 months.

“I know that your father at the time was very sick and you were asked by him not to reveal the extent of his illness to other people," he said.

"Your behaviour was appalling and degrading. Quite rightly, offences of this nature are recognised as being serious, behaviour of this sort towards this woman left her feeling mortified.

"You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself."