A former teaching assistant has been jailed for a string of child sex offences.
Stuart Baker, 40, pleaded guilty to 15 charges including possession of indecent images of children and extreme pornography.
Today, Northampton Crown Court heard how Baker, of Rock Street in Wellingborough, was caught after the mother of one of the victims came across his Facebook account.
Baker had created an account on the social media site purporting to be a 14-year-old girl named Danielle Barnes.
He sent 250 friend requests to young boys and used his fake identity to request sexual pictures of them over an 18-month period.
Prosecuting, Caroline Bray said: “He would send nude pictures of a young teenage girl and ask for pictures in return.
“Five boys sent pictures thinking they were sexting a girl.”
The mother of the first victim, aged 13, saw the conversations and alerted police.
When Baker was arrested, police searched devices at his home address.
They found three category A images, four category B images and 79 category C images of children.
He had also distributed five category C images and was in possession of one extreme pornographic image.
Mitigating, Maxine Krone said Baker was ‘relieved to be arrested’ so he could stop his sexual urges.
She said: “He got through his difficulties in life by creating and escaping in his sexual fantasy.
“He says he was relieved that he was arrested because that made him stop.
“He understands the serious nature of his offending.”
His Honour Judge Timothy Smith, sentencing, said: “It was a reckless and cruel thing to do.”
Judge Smith sentenced Baker to a total of three years in prison. He will serve half of his sentence in custody and the remainder on licence.
He was also made the subject of an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and made to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Speaking after the case, Detective Andy Rogers, who leads the POLIT (Paedophile Online Investigation Team), said: “Baker preyed on his young victims in the most appalling way and for his own sexual gratification, manipulating them online in order to gain their trust.
“All of them have shown remarkable bravery throughout this complex investigation.
“I am happy with today’s result and I hope it goes some way to giving his victims and their families some comfort that justice has been done and that they can now start to rebuild their lives.
“We work tirelessly to bring perpetrators of online abuse before the courts. I hope this case encourages people to report anybody they suspect of online grooming or viewing and sharing indecent images of children to come forward.
“This case serves as a stark reminder of the risks posed by talking to strangers online. People aren’t who they say they are and, sadly, there are people who use the Internet to exploit children. Baker was one of those and as a consequence he is where he should be - behind bars.
“If people choose to engage in this type of despicable crime then they can expect our specialist police officers will be detecting and tracking their activity.
“We will bring to justice anybody who exploits children in this way.”