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Paedophile jailed

PUBLISHED: 17:57 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 07:17 01 August 2010

A paedophile responsible for a shocking catalogue of child sex crimes was jailed on Friday.

Paul Etheridge encouraged girls to send him indecent pictures of themselves, often in exchange for mobile top-up vouchers, and also had sex with an underage girl.

A paedophile responsible for a shocking catalogue of child sex crimes was jailed on Friday.

Paul Etheridge encouraged girls to send him indecent pictures of themselves, often in exchange for mobile top-up vouchers, and also had sex with an underage girl.

Etheridge, of Cratfield, admitted 26 offences, including possession of indecent images, inciting the production of indecent images, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl from London. He was jailed for five years and nine months at Guildford Crown Court last week.

The 24-year-old carpenter was caught after a 13-year-old from Reigate, Surrey, told police he had asked her to send him dirty pictures using her mobile phone camera. Police worked with website owners, internet service providers, mobile phone companies and banks to hunt him down. When they raided his home on August 9 last year they found more than 200 images of girls aged 13 to 15 on his mobile phone, and thousands of images on his computer.

He had groomed one 15-year-old London schoolgirl into meeting for sex. He booked a hotel room and took sex toys including fluffy handcuffs.

Police experts analysed the equipment and discovered he had targeted hundreds of underage girls across the country including Norwich.

Graham Smith, prosecuting, told the court that Etheridge pretended to be a 13-year-old bisexual girl, and also posed as a 17-year-old.

He said: “He admitted he had been in contact with hundreds of females.

“On a large number of occasions he would ask girls to take photos and carry out sexual acts in order that he could watch the footage.”

Judge John Crocker told Etheridge: “Over a relatively short period of time you set out to seduce young girls. The law is there to protect young girls from people like you.

“It must be made clear that those who engage in this sort of activity will get long sentences of imprisonment.”

Det Supt Pete O'Sullivan, of Surrey police, said: “ Etheridge's offending was some of the most widespread I've seen. Most worrying of all, he escalated from downloading internet images, to grooming girls to make their own photos and actually meeting a girl to carry out sexual acts.

“Technology provides a wealth of benefits for young people. But with many children now owning their own mobile phone or having a computer in their bedroom, parents must also be aware of the potential dangers.”

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