September Song JP Cooper
16 September 2013, 14:13
35 year old Robert Hunter from Middlesbrough who persuaded young people to send him inappropriate videos of themselves by pretending to be Justin Bieber has been jailed for 12 years.
The case has been described as one of the worst the courts have ever seen.
The "sadistic exploitation'' conducted by Robert Hunter was so extensive that an international operation through Interpol was sparked.
Hunter used sites such as Facebook, Skype and MSN to abuse girls as young as nine from across Europe, Asia, Canada and the US.
He would also often pose as Justin Bieber in an attempt to convince the girls to expose themselves and perform sex acts on a webcam.
Teesside Crown Court heard that after being arrested in December 2012, he continued to target children and this resulted in a girl from Tasmania eventually contacting police, who traced him back to his home.
In total, more than 800 videos and images were discovered on his computer, all of them having been made by the defendant.
Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said:
"Over the course of 2010, 2011 and 2012, Hunter, using a number of online aliases, had pretended to a number of very young girls that he was a teenager.
On each occasion he was able to disguise his true age and identity by the clever use of images of young boys or by pretending that his computer wasn't working properly.
As a further demonstration of the naivete and innocence of his victims, he was also able to persuade some that he was the music artist Justin Bieber.
He did this in order to dupe and encourage these young girls to strip on webcams and perform sex acts for him.''
Hunter also blackmailed some of the victims into agreeing to his demands by threatening to make the videos he had already made of them public.
Sentencing Hunter to 14 years in prison, Judge Peter Bowers said it represented a callous and sadistic exploitation.
"It's a warning to all parents of teenage children of what can be done via the internet.
The public will be disgusted by how you have behaved even after you had been arrested and bailed.
It represents callous and sadistic exploitation of a number of girls over a number of years.''
Tamara Pawson, defending, said Hunter was remorseful for his actions and the distress he had caused.
In total, Hunter pleaded guilty to 30 offences, which included 15 charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and 14 of making indecent photos of children.