July 2018

Teenager sentenced for string of child sex offences

A teenager from Warrington has been sentenced after admitting 25 child sex offences. 

William Powner, from Woolston, pretended to be a teenage girl so he could sexually exploit young boys online.

The 18-year-old systematically targeted boys as young as nine years old and made them engage in sexual activity via multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. 

The teenager contacted nine victims, including eight from Warrington, via private messages and incited them to send him indecent pictures and videos of themselves, usually on the promise that their actions would be reciprocated. 

He screen-recorded the photographs and videos he received and threatened to send them to friends of the victim – identified from their social media accounts – unless they agreed to his requests to engage in sexual acts and send him further indecent photographs and videos. 

In one case he put an indecent video of a victim on Instagram when his demands were not met. 

As well as the nine known victims, the teenager used an online chat website, where users can communicate with others anonymously, to sexually exploit further victims from all over the world. 

He used this as another way to trick young boys into giving him indecent pictures and videos of themselves.

The teenager would then claim to have the software needed to find out who the victim is and where they live and try to blackmail them into performing sexual acts on a webcam. 

The teenager was caught when victims told their parents what had been happening to them. 

The extent of his offending was uncovered when police seized and examined his laptop and tablet. They contained a large number of indecent images of children. 

The teenager pleaded guilty to all 25 charges he faced at Chester Youth Court on Wednesday 14 March. 

He was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday 17 July. 

The judge handed him a three-year youth rehabilitation order and a year-long curfew order with electronic monitoring. 

Powner was also ordered to adhere to a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and to sign the sex offenders’ register for two years and six months. 

Becky Millyard, a Police Constable at Cheshire Police, said: “The teenager tricked, manipulated and blackmailed boys aged nine to 17 in order to fulfil his own sexual gratification. 

“His actions have had a profound impact on his victims and will affect them for the rest of their lives.