A man who posed as a 15-year-old girl on social media to trick hundreds of boys into sending him naked photos of themselves has been jailed for ten years.
James Utting, 36, was found with pictures of 401 boys, aged between eight and 15, on his computer.
Winchester Crown Court heard Utting would entice the boys to send him images of themselves committing sex acts by posing as a girl.
He would then blackmail his victims by threatening to share the naked pictures and force them to send further images.
The defendant followed through with the threat and sent the photos to school friends and family members of 19 of his victims.
Matthew Lawson, prosecuting, said some of the victims could be seen “crying and begging” the defendant to stop in the videos sent to him.
One victim, aged 14, said in a victim impact statement that “paranoia was everywhere” after the images were shared with other pupils at his school and added he felt “low to the point where there was no meaning to life, I felt there was no tomorrow”.
His mother described Utting as an “evil predator” and added of her son: “To watch him experience shame, hurt, paranoia, anxiety and depression was so hard.
“As a mother this has broken my heart and changed my view of the world forever.”
Utting, from Aldershot in Hampshire, targeted children from locations around England including Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield, Humberside, Grimsby, Sussex, and Southampton, the court heard.
Judge Jane Miller QC ruled Utting posed a danger to children and sentenced him to ten years in custody with an extended licence period of five years.
She said: “It was both devastating and highly distressing for the boys, it will affect all of their lives.
“I hope they will be able to pick themselves up after your sentence and move forward, I hope they understand it wasn’t their fault.”
Mr Lawson said Utting told police he had become “addicted” and “lost control of himself” as well as describing his actions as “cruel”.
Richard Martin, defending, said the defendant had a “troubled life” and had been diagnosed as autistic.
Utting pleaded guilty to 43 offences of possessing and distributing indecent images of children.
He also admitted engaging 11 victims in sexual activity.