A 40-year-old Northamptonshire teaching assistant has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to 15 sexual offences against children.
Stuart Baker, formerly of Kettering, appeared for sentencing at Northampton Crown Court today having admitted 10 charges of inciting children to engage in sexual activity and a further five relating to the making and distribution of 86 indecent images of children including three of the most serious Category A level and one of extreme pornography.
The court was told Baker had masqueraded as a 14-year-old girl on Facebook in order to hoodwink his victims into believing they were chatting online with a girl their own age.
Judge Timothy Smith spoke of the devastating effect Baker’s crimes had had on his victims, the youngest of whom was just 13 at the time the offences took place.
One of the victim impact statements, read in court, described the extreme anxiety one of the children now suffered as a consequence of being duped, exacerbated by the fact Baker, was in a position of trust.
Another is seeking help from a GP in order to manage their anxiety, the court heard.
Detective Andy Rogers, who leads the POLIT (Paedophile Online Investigation Team), said: “Baker preyed on his young victims in the most appalling way and for his own sexual gratification, manipulating them online in order to gain their trust.
“All of them have shown remarkable bravery throughout this complex investigation.
“I am happy with today’s result and I hope it goes some way to giving his victims and their families some comfort that justice has been done and that they can now start to rebuild their lives.
“I’d like to thank the schools involved who we have worked closely with and who have been extremely cooperative throughout what has been lengthy and difficult investigation.
“We work tirelessly to bring perpetrators of online abuse before the courts. I hope this case encourages people to report anybody they suspect of online grooming or viewing and sharing indecent images of children to come forward.
“This case serves as a stark reminder of the risks posed by talking to strangers online. People aren’t who they say they are and, sadly, there are people who use the Internet to exploit children. Baker was one of those and as a consequence he is where he should be – behind bars.
“If people choose to engage in this type of despicable crime then they can expect our specialist police officers will be detecting and tracking their activity.
“We will bring to justice anybody who exploits children in this way.”
Baker will serve 18 months of his sentence before being freed on licence.The judge also made him the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed him on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.