A predatory paedophile who used fake internet profiles to befriend – and later blackmail – underage girls is today starting an eight-year jail term.
Shane Wakefield first came to the attention of the authorities after one of his victims, a child in Scotland, reported him to Snapchat after he threatened to publish indecent images of her unless she agreed to cooperate with more of his perverted demands.
After Police Scotland were contacted by the online messaging app, officers were able to trace the offending account to 25-year-old Wakefield in Morriston, Swansea.
He was arrested in September 2015 and a painstaking and complex investigation by South Wales Police followed, with officers discovering Wakefield was using social media platforms Kik, Snapchat and MeowChat to contact girls across the UK and abroad.
Calculating Wakefield repeatedly followed a tried and tested method to lure in his victims, often befriending them on apps before asking them for pictures, often in return for gifts such as iTunes vouchers.
He then used the initial pictures as leverage to demand graphic images and videos of increasing depravity, and demonstrated little empathy when his traumatised victims – some of whom were driven to self-harm – begged to be left alone.
Wakefield was subsequently charged with a string of offences relating to eight victims. On August 10th, at Swansea Crown Court, he was found guilty of four counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, eight counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, one count of possessing extreme pornography, three counts of possessing indecent images of a child and one count of possessing a prohibited image of a child.
He was today sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.
Detective Constable Richard Jones, officer in the case, said: “Shane Wakefield is a cold and controlling individual who has shown no remorse for his actions.
“He deliberately set out to target young girls for his own sexual gratification and the level of depravity shown by him has left a lasting impact on everyone involved in this case.
“Many of those identified during the investigation were too embarrassed or traumatised to provide evidence against him, and it is credit to the team involved and the Crown Prosecution Service that we were able to pursue and prove some of the charges on their behalf.
“This has been among the most harrowing cases I have dealt with in almost 20 years, and I cannot commend enough the young girls who worked with us to ensure he was brought to justice.
“The impact Wakefield’s actions have had on the young victims is immeasurable. Many of them were driven to self-harm, both during and after his reign of abuse and they, and their families, have shown immense courage throughout the lengthy investigations and the court proceedings.
“I hope today’s sentencing brings them some closure and comfort as they attempt to move forward with their lives.”