A "depraved" paedophile from Darlington has been jailed for almost 30 years for a slew of sex offences against young boys. Over a two year period, Christopher Thompson, 26, groomed victims he met on the online social network "Tagged" and sent them indecent images.
He also sexually assaulted those he met, including one 11-year-old boy in a garage, and in one sickening case incited a man from Cardiff to rape a four-year-old boy, which the man did, and send the video to Thompson to view.
The attack in the garage happened while Thompson was on bail for engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
The net started to close on Thompson in July 2013 when officers from Greater Manchester Police received a referral from National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Their investigation was triggered after it was discovered that Thompson had engaged in sexually explicit online chats with a 12-year-old boy over a social networking site called Tagged and, during these exchanges, indecent images were exchanged.
An employee of the social networking site became concerned and alerted the relevant authorities in the US, where the site was based. The victim was traced to the Leigh area in the UK and Thompson was identified as the offender.
He was arrested in County Durham on in July 2014 on suspicion of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and released with strict bail conditions. His room was searched and police seized a number of items, including a laptop, a hard drive and a memory stick.
Upon forensic examination of the items, thousands of indecent images of children were recovered.
Then in May 2015, Thompson was further arrested in Durham and remanded into custody, after he met the 11-year-old and engaged in sexual acts with him.
Durham Constabulary launched an investigation into him and a mobile phone seized from Thompson after his arrest was found to contain indecent images of children.
He was sentenced to 27 years and 8 months in prison at Teeside Crown Court after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to child sexual exploitation offences.
Detective Constable Kevin Byrne, of TITAN, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: "Firstly, I want to commend the victims for supporting our investigation, during what has been a difficult time. With their help, we have been able to ensure Thompson is behind bars and cannot prey on any more young boys.
"Thompson is a depraved individual who sexually abused children online to fulfil his sexual fantasies. He knew full well how young the boys he abused were when he began his offending, and even continued his horrific acts after he had been arrested.
"I hope today's sentence demonstrates our commitment to pursuing sexual predators, no matter where they are or how long it takes."