A man who groomed and coerced boys into performing sexual activity online has been jailed for more than five years.
Callum Cooper, 19, from Flitwick, was jailed after an extensive investigation by Bedfordshire Police which saw the force safeguard nine child victims across the country.
He used multiple online personas and phone numbers on Instagram to strike up conversations with different groups of boys.
All the victims were 12 or 13 years old and lived in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Lancashire, as well as other parts of the country.
Cooper would use threats of violence, the promise of gaining status in a gang as well as offering to buy presents in order to exploit his victims into recording themselves performing sexual acts.
An operation led by Bedfordshire’s specialist Internet Child Abuse Investigation Team (ICAIT) saw warrants executed at two addresses in January 2020, where several digital devices were seized and examined.
Cooper, who was 16 and 17 at the time of the offences, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of inciting a boy to engage in sexual activity, as well as two counts of making indecent images of children.
On Thursday (January 13) at Luton Crown Court, Cooper received a jail term of five years and four months.
Cooper was also issued with a sexual harm prevention order for an indefinite period, placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely and made subject to a restraining order against the victims.
DS Graeme Twyford, who led the investigation, said: ‘I am immensely proud that our investigation has been able to secure justice for the victims in this case and their families, as well as putting this sickening individual behind bars for a long time.
“Cooper preyed on vulnerable children and used horrific tactics to scare, groom and intimidate his victims, including playing some of the victims off against one another with threats of violence.”
Investigation Officer Paul Baddeley added: “Working this case through has involved hearing some really traumatic testimony from parents, and I cannot commend them and the victims themselves enough for their bravery.
“Our specialist investigators are dedicated to keeping children safe from sexual predators like Cooper. However, it is a sad reality that these people are out there on popular social media platforms looking for their next victim.
“There is lots of information out there around how to stay safe online, but it is of the utmost importance to talk to your children about these issues, be curious about who they are speaking to online and ensure they have the confidence to come and talk to you if they are worried about something.”