A Folkestone sex offender who encouraged children to share videos of themselves online in return for digital gifts has been jailed for 10 years.
Steven Skelton, 34, was arrested after officers carried out a search of his property in Canterbury Road, on 10 August 2020. Two mobile phones and an electronic tablet – all of which contained indecent material of children – were seized.
Officers from Kent Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) found evidence that Skelton had repeatedly searched the internet for indecent images.
He had in his possession more than 230 saved videos showing victims as young as seven live streaming themselves on a website between 2019 and 2020.
The site had a chat room where people can join and view the content. It also had a gifting feature for people to purchase digital gifts like unicorns and gems to encourage and exploit vulnerable young people.
Skelton could be seen interacting with children, believed to be from various countries, and using his bank card to purchase digital coins to trade with when using the website.
One of his phones had recordings of conversations with a girl over social media sites where Skelton was seen to be engaging in sexual dialogue and encouraging the sharing of indecent images and videos.
His other mobile showed a text conversation between himself and a 13-year-old child in December 2017, the messages were sexual in nature and officers were able to identify and safeguard the victim from Kent.
He admitted three charges of taking an indecent image of a child, two counts of possessing indecent images, ten counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one charge of sexual communication with a child.
Skelton was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 6 August 2021. He will also be on the Sex Offenders Register for life and be part of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Investigating officer, Christina Rookes, from POLIT said: ‘This was a complex case where we reviewed thousands of videos to identify offences against children overseas.
‘Skelton has shown he is a prolific predatory offender who has been targeting vulnerable children all around the world, enabled by the internet which has no borders.
‘We are pleased that despite not being able to identify the online victims, our team has been able to bring this offender to justice, and play a part in protecting as many young people as we can, wherever they may be.’
Investigating officer, Christina Rookes