Facebook paedophile Francis Knight sentence 'unduly lenient'

Francis Knight Francis Knight posed as a teenage girl and befriended boys on Facebook

A man who posed as a teenager on Facebook to urge children to perform sex acts online has had his 16-month jail sentence increased to four years.

Court of Appeal judges agreed the original term imposed on Francis Knight was "unduly lenient".

The 31-year-old, from Portsmouth, posed as a teenage girl and befriended boys on the social network.

He incited eight of them to perform sexual activities in front of a web camera so that he could see them.

Appeal judges heard how Knight, from Eastern Road, incited more than 200 other youngsters to perform in a similar way, although they did not do so.

'Non-consensual'

He pleaded guilty to offences involving inciting or attempting to incite children to engage in sexual activities and making indecent photographs of children.

He was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on 24 May.

Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mrs Justice Thirlwall increased his sentence after hearing submissions from Solicitor General Oliver Heald that 16 months did not reflect the scale of the offending.

Mr Heald said the offences were "non-consensual" because the victims were under 13 and they did not know the true identity of the person on the chatline.

After the ruling, he said: "The actions of Francis Knight were appalling.

"He posed as a teenage girl online to gain the trust of young boys and then exploited them for his own gratification.

"Child sexual offences like these are very serious and can be difficult to detect because the culprits may never be seen by the victims and they do not use their real names."

Announcing the decision of the court, Lady Justice Rafferty said: "In victim impact statements and other means of expression, many victims reported feeling bad, scared, sick and angry."

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