James Utting made six different fake accounts on social media using photos of teenage girls as part of his sick ruse to groom 401 boys from all around the UK, it was revealed today.
The 36-year-old used Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to repeatedly demand his victims send him naked images of themselves and if they refused he blackmailed them by threatening to share their images with friends and family.
Utting even shared the explicit images with the boys' school friends on Snapchat and posted them on social media, leaving his victims 'horrified' and 'ashamed', a court heard.
He kept 401 folders, meticulously cataloguing victims' names, ages and their explicit photos - even saving screenshots of conversations in which the boys 'pleaded for mercy'.
Mothers of the boys described Utting as a 'monster' and said their children were overcome with 'shame and guilt' and lost all their confidence, often being left scared to go into school.
Utting, whose victims were aged between eight and 15, left one boy 'crying and begging him to stop' after he threatened him by sending a picture of a knife.
Jailing Utting, Judge Jane Miller QC said: ‘The sheer number of victims, the scale of it, the persistence of it and the length of time it went on is deeply unpleasant.
‘It was both devastating and highly destructive for the boys and affected their whole life, particularly their confidence.
‘I hope they will understand it was not their fault... this has caused their families enormous guilt knowing this was going on in their bedrooms.’
Utting's offending lasted more than two years, from June 2016 until July 2018 when police raided his laptop and external hard-drives, uncovering thousands of images.
Utting, from Aldershot, admitted targeting boys from locations all over Britain, including Southampton, Humberside, Grimsby, Sussex, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield.
Prosecutor Matthew Lawson today told Winchester Crown Court: ‘He would groom the boys and turn it sexual and request images. The first images would be them in school uniform and then naked.
‘He would incite them by sending explicit photos downloaded from the internet under the pretence that this was him.’
His youngest victim, eight, was forced into sending 10 photos of his genitals and Utting sent him an indecent image of a 13-year-old boy saying 'do you think he's sexy?'
One 14-year-old victim said: ‘Each day I was discriminated against and abused by friends at school and people I didn't know. I feared the bus to school.
‘I felt ashamed and stupid and didn't know how much more I could take. I felt low to the point where there was no meaning of life, I felt there was no tomorrow.
‘Paranoia was everywhere I looked. I would never want anyone to go through this.’
In a statement read to the court the boy's mum said: ‘He just sat in his room feeling shame and guilt. I had to tell him this was not a girl he was speaking to, it was a paedophile, a monster.’
Utting admitted 43 offences relating to 11 victims, however he asked for a further 116 offences to be taken into consideration for 54 other victims, with 76 victims interviewed by police and 401 individual victims found on his computer.
Some of his offences included causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch or look at an image of sexual activity, distributing indecent images of a child, possessing indecent images of a child and engaging in sexual communication with a child.
In mitigation, Richard Martin, said Utting was autistic and had a 'troubled life' which had a 'profound' impact on him and caused him to be isolated.
Hampshire Constabulary said at least 19 boys had their photographs shared to friends.
After the case, acting detective sergeant Wendy Harrison said: ‘Utting's offences were so prolific and caused so much trauma and
distress to so many young people right across the country.
‘He targeted and exploited young and vulnerable boys by hiding his true identity behind a fake digital persona.
‘I just hope this sentence can now allow those young people and their families to move ahead with their lives.’