Jail for Huntingdon man who groomed young girls online

Craig Stewart

Craig Stewart - Credit: Archant

A Huntingdon man who used an anonymous online chat website to talk to and film young girls has been jailed.

Craig Stewart, 23, made a full admission when officers visited his home on October 22, last year.

Stewart, of High Street, Huntingdon was found in possession of hundreds of images and videos of children and teenage girls, some of whom he’d met online and secretly recorded their conversations.

At Peterborough Crown Court yesterday, Judge Cooper described Stewart’s behaviour as planned, sustained and that of a groomer.

Stewart pleaded guilty to possession of indecent photographs of children (80), making indecent photographs of children (908), possession of extreme pornographic images (3), possession of a prohibited image of a child (1) and two counts of inciting girls aged 13-15 to engage in sexual activity.

Stewart was sentenced to two and a half years for inciting children under 16 to engage in penetrative sexual activity and one year for inciting children under 16 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity. He received eight months for each of the other charges. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

He was also handed a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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Officers hope the case will highlight the dangers of talking to strangers online. They are urging parents and carers to take an active interest in their children’s online activity.

Detective Constable Lloyd Metselaar said: “All social media websites present a risk of harm to children, in particular those with web cameras that focus on anonymous chats.

“Unfortunately our experience shows that some children are using these sites on a daily basis, often hidden away in their bedrooms without the knowledge of their parents.

“The fact is children have no idea who they are talking to and are often vulnerable to the sexual intentions of the other party.

“In this particular case, Stewart had manipulated his webcam to hide his identity and incite a large number of children to commit sexual acts on camera.

“I would urge parents to take an active interest in what their children are doing online, introduce parental controls, block problematic websites and talk to children about the dangers of speaking to strangers online.”

Stop it Now is a free helpline for adults worried about the behaviour of other adults, children and young people. It’s also for those worried about their own thoughts or behaviour towards children. For further information visit www.stopitnow.org.uk.