A PREDATORY pervert who “bullied, coerced and pressured” children into exposing themselves over Facebook and social networking sites has been jailed for seven years and will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Liam Shields, aged 29, created profiles of an 11 to 13-year-old girl and her older brother on Facebook and MSN and then persuaded children as young as nine to expose themselves to him by webcam over the internet. But when they tried to block him, he used emotional blackmail to make them continue.
Northampton Crown Court heard today Shields targeted up to 200 children while posing as a friend of school age.
Shields, of Stanton Close, Desborough pleaded guilty last month to 42 charges of causing, inciting and attempting to incite children to engage in sexual activity, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.
Joe Spicer, prosecuting, said the charges related to 13 children, who cannot be named, but did not accurately reflect his true criminality.
He added: “He bullied, coerced and pressured them into appearing on webcams for him, threatening in some cases to distributed naked pictures of them or to others threatening to commit suicide.
“As the children tried to block his attentions, he would repeatedly get them to be friends with him by bombarding them with further messages.”
Parents of some of his victims were in court for today’s sentencing hearing with many in tears.
Judge David Tomlinson said: “A truly aggravating feature is, having deceived these children into thinking you yourself were a child, sometimes male, sometimes female, you obtained indecent images and threatened to circulate them if they did not do what they were told.”
Speaking after the hearing, Detective Constable Katy Tyrrell said: “This case has illustrated that it is absolutely vital that parents and guardians know what is happening with their children online at all times.”
See tomorrow’s Chronicle & Echo for a full report.