A TEENAGER who threatened and manipulated under-age girls to get them to send him sexual pictures of themselves has escaped being jailed.
Daniel Crowley pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of causing children to engage in sexual activity.
The 18-year-old, of Elliot Drive, Wellesbourne, also pleaded guilty to three offences of making indecent images of children.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano gave him a three-year community order. Under the order, he has to take part in a sex offender programme and a rehabilitation activity for a total of 100 days, and also register as a sex offender for five years.
Prosecutor Daniel Wright had said at an earlier hearing the offences involved five girls aged between 13 and 15 who Crowley had been in contact with after creating social media accounts in false names.
“He asked them to send images of themselves committing sexual acts, and kept them and used them to coerce the girls to send further images.
“He used various identities, sometimes encouraging them to contact other people who were also, in fact, him.
“That enabled him to exercise control over them in a bullying manner, and he also used threats of self-harm if they refused to do as he requested.”
The girls were from various parts of the country, and the police were made aware by a college that someone had been contacting girls and pressuring them to send nude pictures.
Mr Wright said when Crowley was arrested his phone was seized, and on it were a number of downloaded indecent images including ones showing sex acts with toddlers.
Philip Allman, prosecuting at the latest hearing said the mother of one of the girls had made a statement addressing Crowley in which she said: “You have stolen the daughter I had, slowly and systematically.
“She has shut down from all she enjoyed, and she has also been self-harming because of the torment you put her through.”
And the mother of another victim said her daughter had suffered a mental breakdown as a result of what happened to her.
Delroy Henry, defending, conceded: “What he did was cruel, really cruel. It is a sad testament of the technological age we now live in that it was done with such ease.”
But he pointed out that at the time of the offences Crowley ‘was still a child himself,’ and argued that ‘intensive rehabilitation’ was the appropriate punishment.
Sentencing Crowley, Judge de Bertodano told him: “These are really serious offences. These children were between 12 and 15, and they were desperately frightened by what you did. You cruelly abused them over a year-long period.
“This is the nightmare that parents of teenagers face, that their children can be exposed to this type of behaviour online – and that when we believe they are safe in their bedrooms, they are being subjected to sexual manipulation like this.
“If you were an adult, you would be looking at a sentence approaching double figures.
But she warned Crowley if he breached the order he would be facing a three-year sentence, with a consecutive six-month term for the indecent images.