A JUDGE has jailed a pervert for ten years after hearing first hand the effects his online grooming had on one of his child victims.

John Paul Evans, of Toft Hill, Bishop Auckland, deceived two young girls over social media platforms using a false identity – persuading them to share videos and images which he went on to distribute.

Today one of his victims, who was groomed and blackmailed by Evans over a near one year period, told Teesside Crown Court about how the ordeal had led her to self harm, lose sleep and had affected her friendships, family life and school.

Through tears, she said: “I could always talk to him and he would listen. He seemed to understand when things were difficult.

“He seemed to genuinely care when all his support was just pretend because he wanted me to send videos and pictures.”

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was praised by Judge Peter Armstrong who commended her “courage”.

Evans, 52, earlier last month admitted a catalogue of 21 serious offences involving children.

Eight sexual offences were against the victim in court, including four counts of causing her to engage in sexual activity, three of causing her to watch a sexual act and one of possessing 16 indecent images of her.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of causing another girl under 16 to watch a sexual act and one of engaging in sexual communication with her.

Evans’ second victim was a girl from the USA who prosecutor Rupert Doswell said had disabilities affecting her speech.

The defendant had also admitted five counts of distributing indecent images of a child, four other charges relating to illegal images of a child and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image.

The court heard the offences, which spanned a six-year period, were committed while Evans was living in the Billingham area.

Mr Doswell said police received a criminal agency referral for an address on Heaton Road, in Billingham, and Evans was arrested in autumn last year.

Officers seized a number of devices and found the defendant to be in possession of 19,313 indecent photographs of children, of which almost 3,000 were the most serious level.

Evans was found to have thousands of contacts made across a range of social media platforms including Keek and WhatsApp.

In mitigation Duncan McReddie said his client was of good character, had no previous convictions and “recognises the nature and extent of his wrongdoing”.

Judge Armstrong said Evans had deceived his victims to satisfy his “perverted and distorted” way of thinking.

He added: “Possessing and looking at child images is bad enough but the number of contacts you had and the spreading of these images only adds to the distress of these child victims.”

Evans was handed a ten-year sentence, five of which he will serve behind bars.

Reacting to the sentence, Cleveland Police Paedophile Online Investigation Team Investigator Shaun Storey said: “Youngsters should always remember that people online may not be what they seem.

“They should be very careful not to engage with worrying or suspicious behaviour or online conversation and report any concerns to a trusted adult or an organisation such as CEOP, Internet Watch Foundation - or directly to police.

“I welcome the sentence handed to Evans today and I hope it brings some comfort to the victims and their families as they try to rebuild their lives.”

He added: “Evans was arrested in autumn 2017 after we searched his then home address in Billingham under warrant.

“Months of painstaking investigation began immediately, including forensic examination of several electronic devices we had seized from Evans’ home.

“These devices revealed over 3,000 communications to victims across the world – where Evans usually pretended to be a 19-year-old man.

“They also contained the most appalling images of child abuse and extreme pornography.

“Some of the images he gathered from his victims had been distributed to others.”