Hunter man gets 16 years' jail for Facebook sex crimes

HE was a social media predator who befriended young girls by telling them he was a famous actor and photographer before pressuring them to send naked images, sexually assaulting them and threatening to kill their families if they spoke up.

The Hunter man, 24, was jailed in Sydney District Court on Friday to 16 years’ jail with a non-parole period of 11-and-a-half years after being found guilty of five counts of aggravated sexual assault, one count of indecent assault, one count of procuring a child for unlawful sexual activity and a series of charges relating to grooming, soliciting child pornography and using a carriage service to threaten serious harm.

The charges relate to 20 under-age girls during 2011 and 2012, although the Newcastle Herald can now reveal that the police investigation set up to look into the man, Operation Gilroy, had spoken to more than 50 girls.

The man, who can not be identified because a suppression order remains on his name, would contact the young girls via social media before asking them for naked photographs.

He would also threaten to expose the girls and their photographs online and to friends and family if they refused to send more or meet him.

He told one girl: "I'm out the front of your house now. If you don't have sex with me I am going to kill your family and set your house on fire.''

He told another: "if you[r] littler brother dose not come home from school on[e] day, blame it on your f---ing selves.’’

The man had told some of the girls he was an actor on Home and Away and a professional photographer before attempting to procure the images.

On one occasion, he raped a 14-year-old girl after she had agreed to meet him so some images she had sent would be not be sent to family or posted online.

In a conversation before the girl nervously agreed to meet up, the paedophile answered the girl’s plea to delete an image with: “I do this to heaps of girls, and if you meet with me, I’ll delete them’’.

He raped her the next day.

He sexually assaulted another girl, who had only sent him images after he quoted her address and mother’s workplace before threatening her with statements such as “if you don’t then its all over for you, like its your choice’’.

Operation Gilroy, run between the child abuse squad and Port Stephens detectives, quickly identified the suspect and his ways of targeting the girls, predominantly aged between 13 and 17.

Using dodgy mobile phones, he targeted young, impressionable girls, mainly on Facebook, and offered gifts and cash before requesting the photographs.

With time already serviced, the man is eligible for parole in February, 2024.