Nursery worker guilty of child sex offences

20 year old Paul Wilson, from the Nechells area of Birmingham appeared at Birmingham Crown Court today (Tuesday 7 June) accused of 39 online offences against teenage girls, two serious sexual offences against a toddler, 3 charges of making and possessing indecent images and 5 charges of distributing indecent images.

Wilson pleaded guilty to 47 of those offences and was ordered to sign the sex offenders register.

He is due to be sentenced on Wednesday 27 July.

Wilson was arrested at 5.20am from his home in the Nechells area of Birmingham on Wednesday 5 January by officers investigating an allegation of blackmail.

The teenager claimed that she was subject to online blackmail by a man who threatened to share indecent images of her with her friends and family.

The girl said that she had met the man through a social networking site and slowly built up an online relationship with him.

Through a gradual grooming process, typical of online abusers, innocent conversations soon turned to a sexual nature and the teen was coerced into engaging in sexual acts which Wilson recorded.

Wilson then threatened to share these recordings with her family and friends if she did not maintain their relationship and perform further acts.

As part of their investigation into this alleged crime, police arrested Wilson and seized computer equipment and mobile phones from his bedroom.

As Wilson was being questioned, specialist officers began an initial forensic examination of the equipment.

It was during this examination that officers discovered significant amounts of indecent images, including two recordings taken on a mobile phone of him committing serious sexual offences on a young child.

Officers then quickly worked to identify the offence location and the victim. Through their enquiries, it became clear that the child had previously attended the nursery where Wilson worked and that the offences happened within the nursery itself.

The parents of this child were then informed of the incident, and have been supported throughout the subsequent investigation by family liaison officers.

At the same time, a multi-agency operation was launched involving Birmingham City Council and Ofsted officials, and on the morning of Thursday 6 January, specialist child abuse investigators and social workers attended the nursery to speak to staff and inform parents of the investigation.

Meetings for parents were arranged and a 24 hour helpline was opened to offer support and advice. Parents were then kept up-to date with the investigation through a special police text messaging service.

As their enquiries continued, detectives uncovered further indecent images ranging from level one to level five - the most serious possible.

Many of these images were of 22 girls aged between 12 and 16 years who Wilson had befriended on the internet. Others were downloaded from pornographic websites.

Through a thorough examination of his computer equipment, specialist police officers were able to trace the victims and established that he had created 23 false online profiles which he used to contact would-be victims and strike up a rapport.

Posing as teenage girls, teenage boys and even a talent scout for a modelling agency, Wilson would chat generally, before moving onto topics of a sexual nature having eventually gained their trust.

At the same time, Wilson would slowly introduce his victims to what he claimed were other people, but were in fact one or more of his online personas - complete with false profile pictures to add credibility to the accounts.

This fictional 'community' would then exert pressure on the victim to engage in online sexual activity and elicit further acts by threatening to share the recorded images with friends and family.

Detective Chief Inspector Garry Booth, who lead the investigation team, said:

"This was a complex case in which Paul Wilson created multiple online identities to manipulate and coerce teenage girls across the country to behave in an inappropriate way.

"His actions were calculated and carefully considered.

"Over a period of time, Wilson formed online relationships with his victims with the sole aim of using them to satisfy his perversions.

"He would then use fear and guilt to elicit further acts and ensure his victims silence.

"Our thoughts remain with those victims and their families who have suffered at Wilson's hands.

"Their courage, demonstrated by their willingness to act as witnesses, has undoubtedly helped prevent further offences."

With Wilson's online victims identified, Birmingham based officers travelled across the country to break the news to families who were unaware their child was being abused in this way.

"This was a particularly upsetting case for the officers involved in the investigation, many of whom have children of their own", added Det Ch Insp Gary Booth.

"With every knock at every victim's door, they knew that the lives of those inside would be irrevocably changed.

"We welcome today's result which I am sure will go some way to help the victims achieve a sense of justice."

Police say this case has highlighted the dangers children can face when online and the need for parents to intrusively supervise their child's use of computers and mobile phones.