Cheshire 'pop star' online groomer given eight-year sentence

Skype Image copyright AP
Image caption David Harmes contacted children on Skype and pretended to be a pop star and modelling agent

A man who groomed children online by pretending to be a pop star and modelling agent has been jailed at Chester Crown Court.

David Harmes, 19, of Regent Street, Ellesmere Port claimed to be in a boy band to appeal to youngsters.

Harmes admitted 35 offences against 24 victims and asked for four more to be taken into consideration.

He will serve five years in custody and three years on licence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

The offences included causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity and making and distributing indecent photographs of a child.

'Acute distress'

Harmes contacted his victims on Skype and did not meet up with any of the victims, who lived across the UK.

He also claimed to be a modelling agent, a representative of a dance company and a beauty and fashion blogger, Zoella Sugg.

Ms Sugg and the band he pretended to be part of, Bars and Melody, had no knowledge of his actions, the CPS confirmed.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Wendy Newton said: "Harmes ruthlessly exploited these children for his own sexual gratification.

"Harmes pretended to be characters who would appeal to young girls and then made indecent images of them and distributed them to other people on the internet, with no thought for the acute distress he was causing these children."

Ms Newton warned parents to talk to their children about the risks of interacting with people online they do not know.

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