Northern Ireland

Schoolboys 'tricked into sending images'

Image caption The defendant posed as a girl call Sarah-Louise on Facebook

A man who posed as a 16-year old girl to get boys to send naked images and videos of themselves via Facebook has had his sentence deferred.

The defendant, who was 17 at the time, managed to trick around 50 boys into sending images of themselves.

They believed they were sending them to a girl called Sarah-Louise.

The accused, who is now 21, admitted 18 offences that were carried out between 2011 and 2012 when he was legally a child himself.

The offences included inciting a child to engage in a sexual act, as well as possessing indecent images of children, distributing an indecent photograph of a child and possessing an extreme pornographic image.

A court order has been imposed, under the defendant's human rights, banning any details that could lead to his identity.

The man, who was released from custody last December for separate sexual offences, is currently on licence and is working with probation to address his behaviour.

Deferring sentence for six months to allow this work to continue, a judge said he wanted the defendant to continue working on "risk-reducing changes".

A previous hearing was told that after the first complaint was made on March 12, 2012, it emerged that scores of schoolboys had also been contacted by "Sarah-Louise".

The schoolboys were aged between 12 and 15.

Schools in the area then held special assemblies, where boys were asked if they had been contacted by Sarah-Louise. A total of 50 pupils came forward.

The fake profile of the teenage girl was traced back to the defendant and on 16 March, 2012 his Belfast home was searched.

A large number of items, including his iPad, were seized and examined and a number of indecent images of children were located.

It also emerged during interview that he was on bail for a number of similar offences, and had breached his bail conditions as he should not have been using the internet.

When first interviewed, the defendant refused to say anything.

However, when he was questioned again in August 2012, he was presented with evidence from his iPad. At this stage, he admitted he had posed as Sarah-Louise in order to contact the schoolboys.

A judge deferred sentencing until 5 November and told the defendant to continue to work with probation.

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