A judge described Robert Hunter's case as one of the worst examples of child abuse he has ever heard (Cleveland Police)
A judge described Robert Hunter\'s case as one of the worst examples of child abuse he has ever heard (Cleveland Police)

A paedophile who posed as singer Justin Bieber online to trick children around the world into sending him footage of sex acts has been jailed.

Robert Hunter, 35, from Middlesborough, pleaded guilty to 15 charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and 14 of making indecent photos, and was sentenced to 14 years in jail at Teesside Crown Court.

The court heard how Hunter targeted children from all around the world, including the UK, Canada, France and Australia.

The "sadistic exploitation" conducted by Hunter was so severe that he was wanted by Interpol as part of an international operation. He was eventually arrested after a girl from Tasmania called the police.

Hunter would often pose as the famous pop singer in order to convince young girls to send him explicit videos. He also targeted young boys by posing as a teenage girl to trick them into performing sex acts on camera.

Officers found more than 800 indecent videos and images of children on his computer at his home in Brough Court.

Hunter would also blackmail his victims by threatening to make the videos they sent him public. One girl self-harmed after he posted indecent images of her on Facebook along with her address and phone number.

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 naiveté 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."

Judge Peter Bowers described the case as one of the worst examples of child abuse he has ever heard.

Det sgt Paul Higgins, from Cleveland police, said: "Robert Hunter was a calculating and malicious predator who set out to coerce and bully young girls into exposing themselves over the internet."