July 2019

Innocent bodybuilder was told ‘half of Salford is after you’ after being framed by vile paedophile

A bodybuilder was arrested after being framed by a stranger who posed as him to send sexual messages to a young boy, a court heard.

Brandon Cooper spent his 24th birthday in Strangeways on Tuesday after he was jailed for 16 months at Manchester Crown Court.

Cooper, from Salford, was ‘jealous’ of the entirely innocent Connor Siddall, who has ‘tens of thousands’ of followers on social media.

The night Mr Siddall was arrested he was due to be enjoying a meal with his grandparents, but the 19-year-old instead spent three hours in a police station being grilled by officers.

Since the false allegations were made, Mr Siddall, who has never met Cooper, was warned that ‘half of Salford are after him’, the court heard.

Cooper, who is said to have an ‘extremely low IQ’, set up a fake social media profile using Mr Siddall’s name.

In August last year, using the fake profile, Cooper sent an obscene message to a young boy while posing as Mr Siddall.

The boy reported it to his family with the police then getting involved.

The day after, police asked Mr Siddall, from Radcliffe, to attend Bury police station.

He explained that he had nothing to do with the indecent message, and said he had experienced trouble with fake profiles before.

Police then used internet records to trace where the messages had come from.

In September police went to the home where Cooper lived with his family armed with a warrant.

They found the internet account was in the name of Cooper’s brother.

Cooper and his brother were both arrested.

In interview, Brandon Cooper at first denied any knowledge of the messages, but later admitted he was ‘jealous’ of Mr Siddall.

He said he created the fake profile to ‘express his homosexuality’.

In a victim statement, the victim’s father said he was ‘furious’ and ‘appalled’ at what had happened, but said that the incident had not had any long lasting effects on his son.

Mr Siddall said: “Being accused of something you haven’t done was horrible. Especially when you are accused of sexual offences against children.”

He explained that he had trained to be a bodybuilder since he was 13, and it had taken years to build up his social media following.

Mr Siddall said he had lost thousands of pounds of income from social media advertising as a result of the false allegations, and that the experience has meant he posts much less on social media now.

Following the allegations he has also begun to fear for his safety, worrying that he may face violence or abuse while out and about.

The court was told that he has faced threats, including being warned that he ‘should be careful’ and that ‘half of Salford are after him’.

A psychological report read out in court said that Cooper is sexually attracted to men, but felt as though he was unable to express his feelings in his daily life, instead using the internet to do so.

Cooper, of Brookhouse Avenue, Eccles, pleaded guilty to one count of inciting a child under the age of 13 into sexual activity.

He will have to sign the sex offenders register for ten years, and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for life.