SCHOOL pupils in the upper Calder Valley were among those targeted by an internet pervert who has been jailed for five years after admitting grooming children over the internet.
Stephen Woolley, 27, of Stocks Lane, Luddenden Foot, admitted 25 sexual offence charges, involving inappropriate contact over the internet.
He admitted a further 24 offences of inciting sexual activity for the court to take into consideration.
Woolley’s victims ranged from 11 to 14-years-old. He approached them via Facebook using the pseudonyms John King, John Long and John Smith.
Some of the girls received more than 100 messages in the space of a few days from Woolley. They were all of a sexually explicit nature urging the girls to have sex with him.
His perverted behaviour even saw him sending pictures of his private parts to the girls and requesting web chats where he would touch himself on the webcam.
Bradford Crown Court heard how the victims described feeling “disgusting and repulsed” by what he was doing.
The offending took place over a five-year period, with Woolley targeting girls from the Calder Valley and, in particular, pupils at Todmorden High School and Calder High School.
His honour Judge Durham Hall said: “This is a wholesale persistent and prolonged invasion of the minds and computers of 38, and that’s a minimum, real young girls who were doing nothing more than sitting at home and receiving the filth in a cascade flood of messages.”
He sentenced Woolley to five years in prison with an extended five-year licence period when he is finally released.
The court heard that Woolley had made admissions to the police but in a sinister move during interview when police said they had spoken to 80 girls who had received messages Woolley said they were “only scratching the surface”.
Police said they have been supporting 42 of his victims from across Calderdale and the rest of the country. Detective Inspector Gail Lawrie, who heads the Calderdale District Safeguarding Unit, said specially trained detectives worked tirelessly on the case to both support victims and to trace the offender.
“My officers are specially trained detectives who are used to dealing with these types of offences. They are committed to finding suspects and protecting children,” she said.
“The impact on victims, their families and our local community was always at the forefront of our minds.
“To further protect the public my detectives sought a remand in custody from the outset and Woolley remained in custody throughout the investigation.
“This was a disturbing case and highlights the dangers associated with predatory individuals using the internet to target young and often vulnerable people.
“The overwhelming evidence my officers have obtained and the way it was presented has helped to support the guilty pleas that were put forward at court. I hope that today’s sentence brings some sense of justice and closure to the victims and their families who have been through a very difficult time because of one man’s predatory and very disturbing behaviour.”
Internet safety advice can be found by visiting the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s website, www.ceop.police.uk.