A man who posed as a 16-year-old boy to persuade a girl to send him indecent pictures of herself threatened to post them on Facebook if she did not send more.
Wayne Hayward even used a second phone posing as the boy’s girlfriend to blackmail his victim by giving her 20 minutes to take an intimate picture.
But after she told her father what had been going on, he was tracked down by the police and pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of inciting her to engage in sexual activity.
Hayward, 43, of Beckford Close, Rugby, who also admitted making indecent images, was jailed for six years and eight months and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Prosecutor Lynette McClement said that in 2014 Hayward, who ran his own IT business, bought a pre-pay mobile phone on which he made contact with a 15-year-old girl, posing as a 16-year-old boy called Nathaniel.
She added that that after about two weeks, having asked for pictures of her, he began to ask personal questions and for increasingly intimate photos of her.
There had been in excess of 390 communications between Hayward and the girl on that phone, during which she sent him some 22 images over a period of three weeks.
In return he sent her images he had downloaded of a boy aged between 13 and 16, as well as one of his own genitals, the court heard.
She eventually blocked his number but Hayward bought another pre-pay phone and contacted her again – this time posing as ‘Nathaniel’s girlfriend’ who was angry about their contact.
In this guise he demanded more photos under the threat the pictures she had already ‘found’ would be posted on Facebook, Miss McClement added.
After six more pictures were sent by the worried girl, she blocked that number as well – only for Hayward to persist by using a third phone, still posing as the girlfriend and saying she knew which school the girl went to.
More photos were demanded eventually with a threat that if she did not respond to a request within 20 minutes previous images would be posted on social media.
Hayward had set up an e-mail account in the name of the supposed girlfriend, to which the girl was told to send them.
But his victim was so scared by that last demand that she told her father what had been going on, and the police were contacted, said Miss McClement.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano questioned why Hayward had not been charged with blackmail over that demand.
Miss McClement said a CPS lawyer believed there had been insufficient evidence to do so, but the judge responded: “I will sentence on the basis that the fact he used these methods is a severely aggravating feature.”
When he was first interviewed Hayward made no comment, but later said he was ashamed of what he had done – but claimed that although on occasions he had become aroused, he had no sexual interest in girls under 16.
Simon Hunka, defending, said: “There is little I can say in respect of the offending. He’s a professional man. It beggars belief that he should have acted in this way.
“His life has been turned utterly upside-down. He ran his own business, an IT business, and from the moment his computers were taken he lost that; and he’s had to sell his home and now lives with his mother.”
But Mr Hunka conceded: “The true gravamen of this case is the blackmail, the planning, and the persistence of the sexual exploitation of a young girl.”
Jailing Hayward, Judge de Bertodano told him: “You used this 15-year-old girl. It frankly beggars belief that anyone could treat a child in this way. It was persistent cruelty, and the effects will live with her and her family for many years to come.
“There were two clear times in this when you could have turned round and stopped, when she blocked the numbers, but you persisted.
“Most seriously of all, you gave her an ultimatum which amounts quite clearly to blackmail by telling her she had 20 minutes to respond or the photographs would be published.
“There was clearly a sexual motive to this which you are in denial of.
“There has to be a message that goes out that if adult men prey on young children in this persistent and menacing way, they must go to prison for a very long time indeed.”