A man described as an "evil predator" has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after posing as a teenage girl online to entice boys into sending naked pictures of themselves.

James Utting then shared the images with some of the victims' friends and family.

The 36 year old man preyed on hundreds of children aged between eight and 15 across the UK including Grimsby, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield.

Utting, of St Michael's Road, Aldershot, Hampshire pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to 43 offences of possessing and distributing indecent images of children. He also pleaded guilty to engaging children in sexual activity relating to 11 victims.

The court heard there were a total of 401 victims on his computer dating between 2014 and 2018.

Matthew Lawson, prosecuting, told the court that Utting had created falsesocial media profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat using the image of a 15-year-old girl.

He would blackmail his victims after enticing them to send naked pictures of themselves and of them committing sex acts on themselves by sending them pornographic images purporting to be from the girl they believed they were in contact with.

One victim's mother described Utting as an "evil predator" and added of her son: "To watch him experience shame, hurt, paranoia, anxiety and depression was so hard."

She added: "As a mother this has broken my heart and changed my view of the world forever."

Richard Martin, defending, said that Utting had a "troubled life" and hadbeen diagnosed as autistic.

Judge Jane Miller QC ruled that Utting posed a danger to children and said it was both devastating and highly distressing for the boys and will affect all of their lives.

Utting's offences were so prolific and caused so much trauma and distress to so many young people right across the country.

Detective Constable Wendy Harrison, of Hampshire Police