An autistic Lincoln man who posed as a girl to trick teenage boys on Facebook was today jailed for 40 months.
Judge Simon Hirst had adjourned sentence on 21-year-old Darren Sanby after describing his case as “difficult.”
But the judge today placed Sanby on the sex offenders register for life and imposed a lifetime sexual harm prevention order.
Passing sentence he told Sanby: “There has been a significant degree of planning in terms of the setting up of the Facebook profile on the name of Katie Johnstion.
“It is submitted that I should not send you to prison.
“I’m afraid that because of the number of complainants in this case and the nature and sophistication of your offending an immediate custodial sentence is the only sentence I can impose.”
The court heard children as young as 12 were targeted by Sanby on Facebook after he pretended to be a 13-year-old girl.
He hid behind a female profile called Katie Johnstion on the social networking site and befriended seven adolescent boys.
The court was told Sanby sent the lads, who thought they were corresponding with the girl, sexually explicit videos and images to encourage them to send back pictures.
His behavior was discovered when the parents of a 13-year-old boy thought there was a fault on their son’s Facebook page. Instead they discovered he had been sending and receiving images from the Katie Johnstion profile set up by Sanby.
Following the discovery police searched Sanby’s Lincoln home. They found indecent images on seven devices, 16 hours of videos and 1,000 Skype chats using the Katie Johnstion profile.
Sanby, of St Peter’s Avenue, Lincoln, pleaded guilty to 17 charges at Lincoln Crown Court, including causing a child to watch sexual activity, inciting child sexual exploitation and making and distributing indecent photographs.
He was found to have 5,640 indecent images of children and he distributed 40 indecent images of children.
Sanby denied two further charges of inciting the sexual exploitation of a child and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Alison Summers, mitigating, said there were compelling reasons not to impose custody on Sanby and to take appropriate intervention now.
Miss Summers said: “He is 21 but clearly operates at a level significantly below his age.
“He knows he has some sort of problem, and the timing of his guilty pleas has saved considerable police and prosecution resources.
“He almost certainly meets the criteria for autistic spectrum disorder. He lives a solitary life and finds it hard to relate to people of his own age. Not surprisingly he has been bullied.”