June 2017

Paedophile used Instagram to groom children into sending indecent pictures

A paedophile used Instagram to groom children into sending indecent pictures – but finding his victims could take months due to delays with Facebook, a court heard.

Stephen Jardine, 28, is now behind bars after using the photo sharing site to target underage youngsters.

He has now admitted nine child sex crimes and could face more charges.

But his case could be held up by inquiries with Instagram’s owner Facebook, Teesside Crown Court heard today.

Prosecutor Richard Bennett said: “The defendant had been involved in a number of conversations with other children over Instagram, inciting other children to send photographs and the like.

“The request for their details has been sent. Instagram is owned by Facebook . Facebook is a non-European company. It could be anywhere up to four to five months before the identity of the children is known to the police.”

In the current case, he said, it took six months to have information passed on to Cleveland Police .

“That’s the position the prosecuting authorities are dealing with,” added Mr Bennett.

Jardine pleaded guilty to two charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of attempting to do so.

He requested indecent images from an underage girl, the court was told.

He also admitted failing to comply with notification requirements as a sex offender by using a name without notifying police.

He admitted two charges of breaching a sexual offences prevention order imposed by Teesside magistrates in January last year.

He had unauthorised contact with an underage girl and used an internet-capable device without making it available to police.

Finally he admitted three offences of making indecent photographs of children – a total of 1,454 illegal images.

Jardine, of Pacific Drive, Thornaby , appearing in court via videos to Holme House Prison, committed the crimes between July last year and May this year, breaching a suspended prison sentence.

Mr Bennett added: “The case needs to go off for a pre-sentence report to consider dangerousness.

“It’s a long prison sentence on any view. He’ll want to know his fate as soon as possible.

“The new matters don’t appear to be likely to be contested because he’s made admissions.

“There also appears to be the suggestion he’s been exchanging images of children with another adult. That also needs to be looked at.”

Judge Sean Morris remanded Jardine in custody until a further hearing and possible sentence on August 11.

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