16th September 2013
A 35 year-old man has been jailed for 14 years for pretending to be teenage pop idol Justin Bieber, in order to obtain sex act videos from young children.
Robert Hunter, from Middlesbrough, was caught in possession of 800 videos from around the world after a girl from Tasmania informed police. Some were from boys as young as nine.
At Teesside Crown Court, Hunter pleaded guilty to 15 charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and 14 of making indecent photos. The court was told that he had spent years targeting hundreds of children of both sexes from across the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Asia and Canada. Girls had removed their clothes in front of their webcams after Hunter, masquerading as Bieber, said that he would be their boyfriend.
Young boys were also taken in when he pretended to be a teenage girl and persuaded them to perform sex acts on camera which he used to lure more girls. When they tried to back out, Hunter blackmailed them. A 12 year-old girl slashed her arms when he posted indecent photos of her on Facebook together with her address and phone number.
Judge Peter Bowers said "It represents callous, almost sadistic exploitation over a number of years preying on girls' naivety who were undermined by their own behaviour," adding that it was possibly the worst case of online child sex abuse that he had heard.
Cleveland Police's Detective Sergeant Paul Higgins commented: "Robert Hunter was a calculating and malicious predator who set out to coerce and bully young girls into exposing themselves over the internet."