A COUPLE who admitted exchanging indecent images of a child engaging in sexual activity have been jailed.

Emma Stevens, 23, and Nathan Clarke, 29, were branded “corrupt and depraved” as they were both sentenced to six years in prison.

Teesside Crown Court heard Stevens took naked photographs of herself engaging in sexual activity with the child before sending them to Clarke who she struck up an online relationship with.

Clarke, who is soon to be a father, “manipulated” Stevens into inciting the sexual activity but the pair were caught when a friend discovered the images on Clarke’s laptop.

Daniel Cordey, prosecuting, said: “Mr Clarke was talking to Ms Stevens who he said was his girlfriend. He said they met while living in Spain, they spoke all day every day via WhatsApp. They talked of a meeting and Mr Clarke meeting the child but there is no evidence that meeting took place.

“One day Mr Clarke was streaming onto the TV from his laptop. He left his computer open and the woman he was staying with saw naked pictures of Emma Stevens pop up. When she closed the images down the image of the young child appeared, she slammed the laptop shut.

“Mr Clarke said the images must have came from his phone and he unwillingly received the images.”

Quoting the messages exchanged, Mr Cordey said Clarke asked Stevens if she had taken the pictures yet, said he liked it when the child touched her and that he wanted the child to sleep in bed with them.

Andrew Stranex, defending Clarke, said: “It is clear at the time he was lonely and isolated. Whilst on the face of the messages he is asking for images, he was not in the position to have any form of direct control over her. He accepts what he has done is entirely and utterly wrong.”

But Andrew Turton, defending Stevens, said she is “vulnerable” because of her low intellect and maturity.

He said: “This has had a devastating impact on her and on her wellbeing. The level of support she had got in the community appears to be very limited. Whatever happens to her she will be left to her own devices and any support she must muster to continue her young life.

“This vulnerable defendant engaged in a consensual exchange of messages and images. It was distant relationship and fortunately there was no meeting. She knew it wouldn’t be right to meet up, she enjoyed the distance of the engagement to start with but felt some pressure as it moved to a more sinister level.

“She didn’t believe at the time she would be harming the child and has felt self loathing since. She lacks support, maturity and self esteem. She is in a low percentage of intellectual ability and has a low understanding of the seriousness of the position.”

The pair were both sentenced to six years in prison, placed on the sex offenders register and handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for an indefinite period.

Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “From the messages it is clear Mr Clarke had in his mind that you should meet up and some sexual activity should take place while the child was present and getting him to join in the sexual activity.

“I am satisfied that the sexual activity was instigated by Mr Clarke and it was clear Ms Stevens wouldn’t have done it on her own. But from the nature of the messages that were sent she was not the leader in this.”

She added that he pair were “corrupt and deprived” and she was concerned that Clarke was soon to be a father “because this shows you are capable of manipulative behaviour and he poses a risk to children.”

Stevens, of Grisedale Crescent, Eston, pleaded guilty to three counts of inciting sexual activity with a child, one count of taking an indecent images and one count of distributing indecent images.

Clarke, of Cavendish Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to one count of inciting sexual activity with a child and three counts of possession of indecent images.