In Merseyside’s courts we often see disgusting paedophiles indulging in sick webchats with children who they target online.
Sometimes predators will try to speak to a child only to be duped by undercover police officers or paedophile hunter groups.
But other times they succeed in talking to children about their vile fantasies.
There are certain apps which appear in these types of court cases time and time again.
Paedophiles can use these platforms to groom and abuse children – or at least try to.
In one case paedophile John Smith was already convicted of using Snapchat to target young boys – before going back and grooming another boy on the app, encouraging him to meet up.
Below are some of the apps which are frequently used by predators trying to hunt out and target unsuspecting victims.
Snapchat is a popular social media app which lets users send images which then “self-destruct”.
One of the features of Snapchat is you’re able to see where users are based on their location, although the users have to have this feature enabled for it to work.
Dangerous paedophile John Smith met up with a boy after speaking on Snapchat and went on to sexually abuse him.
Smith, 24, had already been convicted in 2019 for using the platform to send pictures of his penis to boys, but it didn’t deter him from going back on Snapchat and grooming a child.
He encouraged the boy to meet up with him on multiple occasions where he kissed him and later sexually abused him.
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The boy’s mum said “I feel like I don’t know my own son at all anymore”.
Smith, previously of School Way, Speke, was branded a “dangerous” offender and jailed for four years and six months, with an extended three years on licence.
Kik is an app that lets users message others free of charge.
It is also an app that has cropped up in multiple court cases involving predators who use it to try and speak to children.
Paedophile Wayne Collins sent sexual photos to two “girls” he met through Kik.
The 29-year-old thought he was chatting to children when he discussed sex and sent naked pictures of himself online, but in reality he was speaking with an undercover police officer.
Collins, who has no previous convictions, admitted downloading and possessing indecent images of a child, two counts of attempting to sexually communicate with a child, two counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and two counts of attempting to cause a child to look at an image of a person engaging in sexual activity.
He was jailed for 20 months and ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.
In 2017 a Wirral man even used the Kik messenger app to swap child sex abuse images with other paedophiles.
Brandon Doyle, 20, was caught out when a young relative played on his iPad, which then was handed into police.
It was discovered he had distributed 43 child sex abuse images through Kik.
He was sentenced to 16 months suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work, 35 Rehabilitation Activity Requirements.
Doyle was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for ten years a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same period was imposed.
Michael Hollywood, 49, also used Kik to download 33 indecent images of children, with another 82 coming from cloud storage platform Mega.
He was handed 10 months in jail suspended for two years, plus requirements, earlier this month.
Thomas Walker used both WhatsApp and Kik messenger to arrange molesting a toddler and an 11-year-old girl.
The dad-of-four said on the platforms he was “into young girls” and “had no limits”, but in reality the pervert was speaking with two undercover police officers who used a decoy profile to dupe him.
He said he “couldn’t wait to see the children”, and asked whether it was okay for him to “f*** them” before arranging to meet twice.
Walker, 40, failed to turn up both times so officers raided his home and found a vile stash, including indecent images of babies and animal porn, and evidence he shared some files online.
He first started talking to the officers on the website FabSwingers on July 30, 2019, before they chatted on WhatsApp and Kik Messenger.
Walker admitted two counts of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of sexual offences, three counts of downloading indecent images of children, three counts of distributing indecent images of children, and one count of possessing extreme porn.
He was jailed for three and a half years.
A paedophile threatened to rape and kidnap a 12-year-old girl using the popular social media app Instagram.
Christopher Wildman, 46, also asked the schoolgirl for pictures of herself and said he wanted her to dress up in costumes.
The victim said at first Wildman was “nice” and “called her babe”.
But he then sent her pictures of half naked girls and said he wanted to “do that sort of thing to her”.
Wildman said he would “like to kidnap her” and said: “I would rape you.”
He told the girl he was 40 and knew she was 12 at the time when he asked her to send him a picture, which she refused to do.
Wildman also “asked if she had watched porn” and asked her if she had performed sex acts, during messages sent over two to three months, ending in October 2018.
The girl later informed her parents, who contacted police and arrested Wildman.
The pervert, of Windleshaw Road, St Helens, who had no previous convictions, initially denied engaging in sexual communication with a child, but eventually admitted the charge.
He was sentenced last month, when the court heard he had been out of trouble in the more than two years that have passed since.
Wildman was given a nine-month prison, sentence suspended for 18 months, plus a 60-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 60 hours of unpaid work.
He must sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with a SHPO for 10 years and an indefinite restraining order preventing him from approaching the school or home of his victim was also imposed.
One paedophile pretended to be a doctor in a chat room giving “free check ups” over Skype.
Skype is software that enables video chatting online and is used for both on-to-one communication and for group chats.
A court heard James Flaherty had sent obscene messages to an ’11-year-old boy’ and asked him to perform a sex act.
The 23-year-old had also messaged a 12-year-old girl asking her to send images of her performing sex acts on herself, although a prosecutor said it couldn’t be confirmed that she was definitely a child.
In one sick message Flaherty wrote: “My sister is pregnant, I’m planning to sex him up.”
Flaherty, of The Elms, Dingle, has no previous convictions.
He admitted two counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child, and two counts of attempting to incite a female child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
Flaherty was handed three years and four months in jail.
He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order was also imposed.