A FORMER Scoutmaster from Ellesmere Port who sent images and videos of children being sexually abused to underage boys to get them to perform sex acts has been jailed for 12 years.

Judge Steven Everett told Terence Hamblett, 44, of Seymour Drive, his behaviour was "depraved and disgusting" as he sentenced him at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, January 10.

Previously Hamblett had pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court last November to a total of 20 charges, which also included possession of extreme pornography, voyeurism and encouraging a man via Skype to arrange for their three-year-old son to engage in a sex act.

All the charges dated between September 1, 2002 and September 9, 2016 and all took place in Ellesmere Port.

Eight of the charges which Hamblett pleaded guilty to, ranging between 2011 and 2016, involved inciting boys aged between 13 and 15 to engage in a sex act online. One of the eight charges involved getting a 15-year-old boy to engage in a more serious sex act.

Hamblett pleaded guilty to making 233 indecent photos (including 70 videos) of a child which were 'category A' – the most severe; 245 indecent images (including 70 videos) of children at category B and 444 indecent images (including three videos) of a child at category C.

He admitted possessing 922 indecent photos of a child and distributing indecent photos of a child – 566 at category A and 39 at category B.

Prosecuting, Simon Duncan said many of these images and videos would be distributed via Skype to the boys aged 13-15 to persuade them to engage in online sex acts.

He admitted having in his possession on September 8, 2016, 72 extreme pornographic images of people performing sex acts with animals.

He also pleaded guilty to an act of voyeurism which took place between January 1, 2013 and April 21, 2014, where he used a pinhole camera to film people – primarily one male victim – using a disabled toilet at a warehouse in Stoke-on-Trent.

At an earlier hearing, Chester Crown Court heard Hamblett, who had no previous convictions, had been in the Ellesmere Port and Neston Scouting movement for 32 years, had been a district committee member and would supervise other leaders.

Defending, James Coutts said he recognised the seriousness of Hamblett's situation and Hamblett bitterly regretted these incidents.

Mr Coutts said: "The only person he has to blame is himself.

"Two people will be punished on top of this; his mother aged 72, who relies on him heavily after she lost her husband. She feels shame for her son.

"The other is his partner; they have been together on and off for a number of years.

"The partner will stand by him and [after custody] he does have someone to come out to."

Judge Everett, sentencing, said: "The 20 counts all relate to your behaviour of sexual matters towards young children, specifically male young children.

"You were co-operative [with police on providing information] on voyeurism; you yourself described the these actions as vile – you feel physically sick about what you did.

"It was utterly vile and, what you did, any right-thinking person would be sick of the thought of the material you downloaded from the internet. It is hard to describe why anyone would consider doing it.

"You carried on sending that material to youngsters and got them to engage in sexual acts.

"Another thousands of exchanges led you to get a man to get their three-year-old son to touch him sexually. What you did was so alien to any decent person, it's hard to comprehend this behaviour; it's depraved and disgusting.

"There will be very very few cases of this nature, although sadly there are many sex offenders, but few of this nature that come before the courts.

"It was a terrible catalogue of offences of some considerable length of time.

"I want to send out a message to others who use the internet as a sexual weapon – people who do that should know they will receive considerable sentences."

Turning to the offences, Judge Everett said of the indecent images and videos: "They were of young children being sexually abused. It was not just still images, which is bad enough, but you had 70 videos [at the worst category].

"Every time you download and image of that type, you are downloading an image of that child being sexually abused. We will never know what happened to that child, whether they lived or not.

"But you went one stage further and distributed them to young children."

Referring to Hamblett's voyeurism, Judge Everett said: "As you describe yourself, it is vile filming them. It may be surprising for members of the public to know that the maximum sentence of voyeurism is two years. This is far too serious to be dealt with as anything other than a custodial sentence."

Referring to Hamblett encouraging a man online to get their three-year-old son to perform a sex act, Judge Everett said: "It may be you were not carrying out the abuse but you persuaded it to happen.

"One can only hope the boy did not appreciate the seriousness of the situation, but I can say from previous experience of dealing with matters in the courts that people can remember such things from the age of three."

Referring to inciting underage boys to engage in sex acts online, Judge Everett said: "You contacted young boys aged 13, 14 and 15 to engage in sex acts. You did so from a distance, genuinely believing you would never be caught.

"Your behaviour was vile, totally disgusting."

In mitigation, Judge Everett said: "You had employment as an electrician and your partner is still supportive. You claim you were ashamed and embarrassed. I do take into account to a limited extent your previous good character as that ended in 2002."

For making and possessing indecent images, Hamblett was sentenced to 12 months in jail. For distributing the images he was sentenced to three years in jail, and for voyeurism he was jailed for four months. All three sentences were to be served concurrently, resulting in a total of three years in prison.

For persuading a man to get their three-year-old son to engage in a sex act, Hamblett was sentenced to an additional four years.

For inciting underage boys to engage in sex acts, Hamblett received four years on seven counts and five years for the other count. These were all to be served concurrently, but in addition to the sentences for the other charges.

In total, Hamblett was handed a 12-year jail term. In addition, he was put on the sex offenders register for life, barred from working with children for life and all devices used to access the indecent images were to be forfeited and destroyed.

Following the case, Detective Constable Andy Kent, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a highly complex investigation involving thousands of images and videos, more than one-and-a-half million Skype messages and the identification of a large number of victims and other offenders both in the UK and abroad.

“As a result of the work by our dedicated officers we have been able to show that Hamblett is a professional paedophile who used the internet and social media to sexually exploit vulnerable victims for his own sexual gratification.

“He possessed, made and distributed an extremely large number of images and videos of children being sexually exploited and abused and he duped teenage boys into performing sexual acts for him on a webcam by concealing his true age and identity.

“Hamblett even incited another paedophile to abuse the fellow offender’s infant son, again asking them to do this on a webcam so that he could watch.

“He also installed a hidden camera in the toilets of a café he ran in Stoke-on-Trent and kept video footage of teenage boys using the facilities and getting undressed.

“Thankfully Hamblett is now behind bars serving a significant prison sentence and he can no longer sexually exploit and pose a threat to children.

“We are committed to pursuing and bringing to justice those who engage in online child sexual exploitation and play a part in the sexual abuse of children and I would like to thank all the officers involved in the investigation for their hard work in unravelling the extent of Hamblett’s offending and securing this conviction.”

On top of his custodial sentence Hamblett was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

Chief Inspector Alex McMillan, from Ellesmere Port Local Policing Unit, said: “This case highlights the fact that people you communicate with on Skype and other forms of social media may not be who they claim to be.

“It also highlights the need for parents and guardians to warn their children of the dangers of communicating with people via social media, to check that they are using those things safely and to keep an eye out for any warning signs of sexual exploitation.

“I hope that Hamblett’s conviction encourages anyone who has been subjected to similar offending to report it to the police.

“They should feel confident that they will receive the help and support they need from our specialist officers and other support agencies we work alongside.

“All victims will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and any allegations will be thoroughly investigated, with the wishes and the needs of the victim as our main priority.”

Officers would like to stress that Hamblett no longer has any involvement with the Scout Association or the café at the warehouse where he worked in Stoke-on-Trent.

To report a sexual offence call Cheshire Police on 101. Information can also be passed anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.

For advice on identifying signs of sexual exploitation visit www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/child-sexual-exploitation/signs-symptoms-and-effects.