May 2012

Stockton paedophile posed online as female modelling agent – Jailed

A DEVIOUS paedophile posed as a female modelling agent online to dupe two underage girls into posing for him.

Michael Rodham, 56, of Newton Walk, Stockton conned the teenage girls into believing he was training them to be models over the internet.

The girls thought they were talking to a 30-year-old woman named Sharon Jones who ran a modelling agency.

“That was a complete and utter lie,” said prosecutor Harry Hadfield.

In fact, the girls were talking to Rodham – a collector of hundreds of child abuse images – who was taking advantage of their interest in modelling.

He communicated with them from his Stockton home under the guise of the fictitious agent in June and July last year.

He promised one of the girls a modelling career, claimed he had a photography studio and said he’d spend £500 on clothes for her.

Using messaging, he got her to pose and strip for him over a webcam and asked her to send him pictures of herself, for his own sexual gratification.

She later said in a statement read in court: “I feel very angry that I’ve been taken advantage of and I wonder how many other girls have been subjected to the same lies.”

He asked the second girl to pose in inappropriate ways.

He used online maps to claim he was from the girls’ local area, which he’d never visited.

His true identity was unmasked when the father of one of the girls reported the matter to the police.

Security guard Rodham was arrested on September 13. He had two pictures of one of the girls on his mobile phone, and 18 indecent pictures of children on his computer.

It emerged that police had already searched his home on Newton Walk and arrested him eight months earlier on January 13 last year.

His organised collection of 1,054 indecent photos of children was found on computers and storage media, with girls’ names and email addresses, Teesside Crown Court heard.

More than 130 of the pictures were at the most serious levels in law. He also had 134 “extreme pornographic images” and 44 “prohibited images”.

He had been accessing websites offering child pornographic content and downloaded the pictures, mostly of pre-pubescent children, between 2007 and 2011.

He admitted he had an unhealthy interest in children, surfed the web for images, saved and copied them, and had contacted children over the internet.

He was released on unconditional bail, but obtained another computer and deceived the two girls using the model agency persona.

Rodham pleaded guilty to 30 charges – three of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, 18 of possessing and seven of making indecent photographs of children, one of possessing prohibited images of children and one of possessing extreme images.

Duncan McReddie, defending, said there was “widespread public alarm”, sometimes spilling into violence, over this type of crime. “There is also a public interest in reform and rehabilitation of the offender.”

He said Rodham, who works in the security industry, was candid, of previous good character, and his two sets of offences, on their own, might not normally attract prison.

The judge, Recorder Tahir Khan QC, said: “This amounts to a gross breach of trust in which you deliberately deceived two young girls.

“These were pre-planned and carefully executed offences. Only a significant and immediate sentence of custody can be justified.”

Rodham was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

He will be banned from working with children, have a sexual offences prevention order and be on the sex offenders’ register, all indefinitely.