A paedophile who used fake internet profiles to befriend – and later blackmail – underage girls has been jailed for eight years.
Shane Wakefield first came to the attention of the authorities after one of his victims, a child in Scotland, reported him to Snapchat after he threatened to publish indecent images of her unless she agreed to cooperate with his demands.
After Police Scotland were contacted by the online messaging app, officers were able to trace the offending account to 25-year-old Wakefield in Morriston, Swansea.
He was arrested in September 2015, with police later finding he was using social media platforms Kik, Snapchat and MeowChat to contact girls across the UK and abroad.
He often befriending his victims on apps before asking them for pictures, often in return for gifts like iTunes vouchers.
He then used the initial pictures as leverage to demand graphic images and videos.
Wakefield, of Cwm Arian, Swansea, was subsequently charged with a string of offences relating to eight victims.
On August 10, at Swansea Crown Court, he was found guilty of four counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, eight counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, one count of possessing extreme pornography, three counts of possessing indecent images of a child and one count of possessing a prohibited image of a child.
Today, Wakefield was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and will be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.
Sentencing, Judge Paul Thomas said: “The wickedness of what you did over a significant period of time to a huge number of young girls can’t be underestimated.
“You went online seeking out girls of your preferred age of 13-16. You started off by bribing them with vouchers to send you sexual photos including their faces, then you blackmailed them to send you sexually explicit images, and if they didn’t comply with your demands you would put them on Facebook and on the internet so their friends would see.
“By these utter callous means you forced them to send pictures of their genitalia and performing sexual acts on themselves. Several of them begged you and said they had self-harmed in the past and this made them want to do it again. Anyone with any sort of heart would realise the torment these girls were facing, but your response was brutal.
“To put them through that shows the depravity of your nature. There has not been a hint of remorse, just denial. Maybe it’s for the benefit of your parents so you can make out it’s a horrible misunderstanding.
“The simple fact is you are a committed paedophile. The harm you have caused is incalculable.”