AN online predator who tricked children using an alter-ego has been jailed for ten years for multiple child sex offences.

Dale Michael Tyson was sentenced at York Crown Court for 17 offences including sexual communication with a child and distributing indecent images of a child.

Tyson posed under an alter ego online in order to talk to children and obtain sexual images of them, building relationships with his young victims to obtain more graphic images.

His offences relate to ten different victims from across the UK and USA, but North Yorkshire Police believe there are many more.

He pleaded guilty to seven counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, six counts of making indecent photographs of a child, three counts of intentionally encouraging an offence and sexual communication with a child.

The 30-year-old, of Christina Street, Harrogate was sentenced to the prison term on Friday and was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for an indefinite period.

North Yorkshire Police Detective Sergeant Steven Alderson commented on the case.

He said: "This case really highlights the fact that it is almost impossible to know if the person you are speaking to online is who they claim to be.

"Tyson pretended he was a young north American man to create connections with his victims so that he could manipulate them into sending graphic images of themselves which he then used for his own gratification.

“The young victims who came forward showed incredible bravery in speaking to the police about what happened to them and in speaking out they have helped protect many more young people from Tyson’s deplorable behaviour.

“The investigation spanned the UK and USA with fantastic work from our investigators at North Yorkshire Police who managed to locate a number of these victims, without whom the case would not have been so strong.

"These type of investigations are a huge team effort but I’d particularly like to thank DC Lucy Armstrong, Victim ID Officer Steve Tock and Digital Forensic Investigator Zoe Warboys for their part in bringing this offender to justice.”

“Unfortunately, online communication gives criminals like Tyson the opportunity to meet and speak to victims whilst pretending to be whatever persona will allow him to create these relationships and it is a situation we are seeing more and more often.

"Please be extremely cautious when speaking to anyone online and never share images or personal details about yourself.”

The NSPCC has a wide range of resources for parents around keeping children safe online and advice around how to approach conversations about online safety.

Visit their website for further details, or if you are worried about online sexual abuse or the way someone has been communicating with you online and you would prefer not to speak to the police, you can report confidentially online here.