A man described by a judge as “every parent’s worst nightmare” has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for committing multiple online sexual offences against children.

Christopher Laing, 38, was convicted at Teesside Crown Court of possession of 67 category C images of children, eight counts of making indecent images of children, seven counts of causing or inciting girls aged 13-15 into sexual activity, eight counts of sexual communication with a child and attempting to meet a child after grooming.

He had been initially bailed by Police Scotland after being found in possession of indecent images of two 14-year-old girls from the Cleveland Police area.

Then in June 2023 he was arrested by Cleveland Police officers when he travelled from his home in Renfrewshire Scotland, to the Cleveland area in an attempt to meet up with a 15-year-old girl, after communicating with her sexually online.

He sent photographs of himself travelling on a train to Teesside in an attempt to meet with the child and had booked a hotel in the area.

After the girl informed her parents that he was travelling to the area, they alerted the police who arrested Laing at the station as his train came in.The Northern Echo: Sex offender Christopher Laing

Laing’s mobile phone was seized by police as part of the investigation and during forensic examination of the device it was discovered that Laing had been in contact with multiple teenage girls across the country.

The court heard he attempted to goad the girls into sending indecent images of themselves to him for money and gifts.

When the children refused, he made threats to rape them. Officers found evidence on his laptop, that Laing had researched the addresses of his victims and knew where each of them lived.

Victim impact statements read out to the court heard that one teenage victim no longer felt safe and worried every day that she would receive a message on her phone from Laing. Her mental health had declined as she was taunted by the memory of Laing’s messages.

Another victim described how her confidence had been shattered, and was afraid to go to school, fearing that people knew about the messages that Laing had sent to her.

During sentencing, Judge Carroll expressed concern regarding Laing’s use of the threat of rape against children to fulfil his sexual desires, describing Laing as “every parent’s worst nightmare”. He also praised the bravery of the victims in coming forward.

Laing was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison and will not be eligible for parole until he has served five of these.

He was further sentenced to another one year and eight months for possession of illicit images and sexual communication offences, which will run concurrently with the main sentence.

Laing was also made subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, which limits his use of internet-enabled devices and means that any devices he purchases may be subject to an examination by a police officer at any time. He must also sign the Sex Offenders Register for life on his release from prison.

Detective Constable Dave Riley, of the Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) said: “The bravery of these victims in coming forward to alert police to Laing’s activity ensured that he was given a custodial sentence which will prevent him from harming other young girls.

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“Their patience and honesty during the investigation process is highly commended.

“I hope that this case encourages anyone else suffering at the hands of an online abuser like Laing, to come forward and tell police.

“Please don’t suffer in silence. If you are suffering any kind of sexual abuse, and feel ready to report it to police, please call 101. Officers are here to listen and support, and bring suspects to justice.”