UK

Teenager Attempted Suicide After Being Tricked Into Sending Pictures By Paedophile

12/09/2013 13:08 BST | Updated 12/09/2013 13:12 BST

A teenager tricked into sending indecent pictures of herself by a predatory paedophile tried to kill herself when she discovered the truth, a court heard today.

Ben Kesterton, 35, pretended to be a 20-year-old woman on Facebook to start a relationship with the girl, who then sent him pictures of herself when she was aged just 15.

And when the girl called off the relationship, Kesterton threatened her and said he would post the indecent pictures on her Facebook page - exposing them to her friends and family.

Unemployed Kesterton, who lives with his mother, was today jailed for 16 months by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court after admitting a string of indecent photograph charges.

Recorder Ben Browne QC described the offending as "sophisticated" and told Kesterton that his crimes were so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence was justified.

"You wished to have online sexual conduct with a young girl, or girls, for your own sexual gratification and you therefore set up the Facebook account of Millie Rose, an entirely fictitious character that you led people to believe lived a glamorous lifestyle with money," the judge said.

"You engaged in a series of online communications with the girl over a period of 18 months and those communications were of a highly sexualised nature.

"For your own sexual gratification you persuaded her to send you pornographic images of herself.

"What followed I regard as far more serious. When she became suspicious and stopped communication you engaged in a campaign of blackmail, although it is not charged as such, you set out to threaten her into continuing communication with you.

"You also made threats to publish them on Facebook and that would reveal to her friends and family the nature of the relationship.

"The trauma that such threats would produce would be perfectly obvious to you as they would to any person.

"The result, that she would attempt suicide, is all your doing."

The judge added: "I do not need a victim impact statement as your own actions speak volumes for what misery you caused her."

Kesterton was also placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years and given a sexual offences prevention order until further notice.

At an earlier hearing Kesterton, of Granville Street, Cheltenham pleaded guilty to four charges of making indecent photographs of a child and a further three counts of distributing the images.

The court heard that Kesterton had created a fake Facebook profile for a 20-year-old girl called Millie Rose, who was wealthy and lived in London's fashionable Kensington and Chelsea.

Prosecutor Julian Kesner said Kesterton also created a whole series of false profiles on the social networking site to give Millie Rose "friends".

"To give the page further credibility there were photographs of Millie Rose's lifestyle, holidays and weekend breaks," Mr Kesner said.

"Millie Rose did not exist. Mr Kesterton had created that profile in order to make contact with young girls."

Mr Kesner said that the victim, who was then aged 13, first made contact with Millie Rose in May 2010.

He said that the girl, who is now 17, was at the time questioning her own sexuality and genuinely believed Millie Rose was a real person.

"There then followed dialogue on the internet between the defendant purporting to be Millie Rose and the girl," he said.

"A lot of the conversations were highly sexualised and highly suggestive. Photographs of a sexual nature were sent between the defendant and the girl."

Mr Kesner said that by December 2011 the girl had become suspicious of Millie Rose and ceased contact.

"Having ceased contact with the defendant she then started to receive emails from the defendant using the email address 'Iikeyoualot@...' with a username of 'Jesus Christ'," Mr Kesner said.

"She did not respond to those emails so the defendant then sent her another email with an attachment.

"The attachment was a photograph that the girl had sent the defendant of herself in a sexual position.

"The defendant sent several such emails of various poses the girl had sent Millie Rose.

"The defendant then started to threaten the girl saying to her that if she did not make further contact with him he threatened to publish those photographs that he was sending to her on Facebook.

"The girl was utterly devastated at what happened and she pleaded with the defendant not to publish the photographs.

"In January 2012 the girl attempted to take an overdose and commit suicide. Thankfully it was an attempt that was unsuccessful."

Police quickly traced Kesterton because he was also sending the girl text messages.

When he was interviewed by police he admitted creating the Millie Rose profile but said he believed the girl was 15 and not 13 when he first met her online.

Joe Maloney, defending, said: "He is extremely remorseful. He acknowledges that the consequences of his actions - by setting up those false profiles presenting himself as a person he was not - had particularly very serious consequences.

"Thankfully there was only one victim in this case.

"He has had a huge wake-up call in the past 12 months. This man is no idiot. He is 35, he is mature. He is single and he has no children.

"Up until these events this was a man of good character and he has lost that."

Mr Maloney urged the court not to jail Kesterton and instead asked for the "tough alternative" - the three-year Thames Valley sex offender programme.

"It is not a soft option," he added.

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