A student who contacted teenage boys online and persuaded them to perform sexual acts has been jailed for eight years.
Connor Allen-Howe, 21, was sentenced today, after admitting 21 counts of causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activity and eight counts of causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography. The offences involved a total of 22 victims.
He also admitted two counts of making indecent photographs of children, involving a total of 155 images.
It followed a complex investigation, which began when Essex Police Online Investigation Team received a referral from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) on June 3, 2014.
Police in Colorado, America, had been investigating a Skype account holder who had pretended to be a girl and persuaded a teenage boy to send videos of himself engaging in sexual activity.
The account was traced to Allen-Howe’s then address in Halstead, where he was arrested by Essex Police on June 6 and his computer and mobile phone were seized.
During the investigation, officers carried out extensive enquiries and reviewed large amounts of evidence, including hundreds of chat logs on his five Skype accounts.
On three of the accounts, he posed as a girl aged 17 to 19 and contacted teenage boys he did not know, asking them to perform sex acts in exchange for photos of the unknown girl.
He also claimed to be a multi-millionaire and offered money and gifts to some of the victims.
Allen-Howe, of Gardeners Road, Halstead, was charged in August 2016 with 11 counts of making indecent images of children; 29 counts of causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activity and 26 counts of causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of children to become involved in pornography.
He admitted 21 counts of causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activity, eight counts of causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography, and two counts of making indecent photographs of children when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday March 10.
He was sentenced to a total of eight years. He has also been given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order on an indefinite basis and been put on the Sex Offenders Register on an indefinite basis.
Speaking after the case, Detective Sergeant Clayton Ford said: “Allen-Howe used the anonymity of the internet to target young boys, deceiving them into believing they were talking to a teenage girl, before tricking them into the most depraved sex acts and recording them for his own pleasure.
“From his computer he was able to target victims all over the world and this case highlights the dangers our children face in talking to people online that they do not know personally.
“If the teenager from Colorado had not come forward to local officers there, then we may not have known about the extent of the offending and many more children may have become victims of sexual exploitation.
“I would encourage children and parents to look at the www.thinkuknow.co.ukwebsite and Essex Police’s website for further advice.
“We will continue to target those individuals who look to commit offences against, and exploit, our most vulnerable.”