A 23 year-old man has been jailed for four and a half years after being found guilty of soliciting indecent images from thousands of young boys.
Patrick McDonald from Crumlin, Northern Ireland was sentenced on the 6th of January at Reading Crown Court after an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The court heard that McDonald attempted to contact young children through social media sites, such as Facebook who provided information to assist the investigation.
He posed as fictional teenage girls.
The prosecution said he incited his victims to send him a number of indecent images in the hope of engaging in sexual activity.
The NCA are working closely with police forces to identify and safeguard many of McDonald’s victims.
McDonald has now been placed permanently on the sex offenders’ register.
He pleaded guilty to charges against at least five-hundred victims although the real number is believed to be much higher.
Judge Grainger said she found the level of offending by the 23-year-old to be ‘breathtaking’.
Operations manager at the NCA, Martin Ludlow, said:
We have identified and brought to justice a prolific offender who has exploited the trust of many, many children. In cases like these their welfare is our paramount consideration.
Anyone who is concerned that someone is in immediate danger should call 999.
Information and guidance for children and young people from 5 to 18 on staying safe online and in the physical world, as well as information for parents and teachers, is available on our dedicated website, www.thinkuknow.co.uk.