September 2017

Sexual predator jailed after tricking young girls into sending graphic pictures

A sexual predator who encouraged young girls to send sexually explicit images is now behind bars.

Craig Stewart, of Clay Lane, Burtonwood, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison at Liverpool Crown Court on September 14 after pleading guilty to a string of sexual offences.

The court heard how suspicions were raised about the 33-year-old’s behaviour as part of an investigation by British Transport Police in July 2016 into the exploitation of a 15-year-old girl.

When detectives examined the victim’s phone, they identified a series of conversations between her and Stewart.

He was then arrested in September 2016.

Using the alias of John Edwards, the defendant sent messages to a number of young girls, and asked them to share explicit photos of themselves.

Stewart used photographs of unknown teenage boys in order to persuade his unsuspecting victims to send explicit pictures of themselves to him.

He also made efforts to try to meet with his victims, who were from around the country, although this never materialised.

Stewart pleaded guilty to five counts of causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography, eight counts of making indecent images of a child and one count of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

DC Olly Saunders, from British Transport Police, said: “Stewart used an alias of a young boy in order to groom the girls.

“Over a period of time he exploited a number of young girls for his own sexual gratification. The steps he took in order to lure his victims into sharing extremely personal photographs was disgraceful.

“Stewart knew full well that the girls he was speaking with were below the age of 16.

“When we examined his mobile phone and laptop we uncovered some 120 indecent images and videos of children.”

Stewart was also handed a sexual harm prevention order by Judge Anil Murray.