A MANIPULATIVE paedophile who blackmailed girls as young as 13 into sending him indecent images been convicted of a string of sex offences.

Callum Ward, 22, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where he admitted almost 20 offences, including blackmail and inciting females under 16 to engage in sexual acts.

The court was told how Ward, of Sydney Grove, Wallsend, approached young girls on various social media apps and would strike up conversations, which he would then move to Snapchat.

Ward would encourage his victims into sending indecent images of themselves and sent them videos of himself performing sex acts.

The calculating predator would then use the snaps as a way of blackmailing his victims into sending further explicit videos, by threatening to post their intimate photos online if they didn’t comply.

A report was made by a 13-year-old victim to Snapchat and the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (Polit) at Northumbria Police. Officers arrested Ward on November 5, 2018.

The subsequent examination of his electronic devices unearthed evidence of further victims and a disturbing haul of indecent images of children and animals.

Ward appeared at Newcastle Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of blackmail, eight counts of inciting a female under 16 to engage in a sex act, three counts of causing a child under 16 to watch a sex act and three counts of making an indecent image of a child.

He also admitted possession of extreme pornography and the breach of an interim sexual risk order.

Following the case, Detective Constable Jane Marley of Polit at Northumbria Police, said the case highlighted the dangers of interacting with strangers on social media.

She said: “Callum Ward is a dangerous paedophile who targeted young, vulnerable girls through anonymous social media apps. It’s clear this behaviour had gone on for a great length of time.

“Ward blatantly targeted young girls and made his sexual interest in them known.

“He would lie about his age to gain the trust of his victims and coerce them into sending him indecent images and then blackmailed them into sending further pictures and videos of them performing sexual acts, all for his gratification.

“People who knew him would have never known that behind closed doors he was a serious and dangerous criminal in the cyber world.”

She added: “I want to praise the brave victims for coming forward and speaking with us and helping us to bring him before the courts.

“I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of this type of crime to make a report – this can be done to your parent, school, local police force, via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection website (CEOP) or on the social media app itself.

“We know young people will continue to use social media and so we want to educate them and their parents about the dangers posed by the internet, and what steps they can take to look after themselves.

“Young people using Snapchat often think the snap will delete itself but offenders will often screenshot or screen record the conversation and images.

“We encourage children in particular not to talk to strangers online and never let anyone encourage you to engage in to carrying out sexual acts.

"You never know who might be on the other side of the camera.”

Ward is due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court on December 5 to be sentenced for his crimes.