A Derry court has heard a 28-year-old man assumed the identities of two well-known television personalities to persuade young girls to strip naked for him during live web cam exchanges.

Austin Quigg appeared at the Crown Court in Derry on Friday morning where he pleaded guilty to fourteen charges of making indecent images of female children, guilty to three charges of inciting female children to engage in sexual activity and guilty to three charges of attempting to incite female children to engage in sexual activity.

He committed the twenty offences between October 2009 and March 2012.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) told Judge Philip Babington that the defendant coerced one of the girls to engage in sexual behaviour during one of the web cam exchanges.

The barrister said that ‘girls as young as six were involved ranging up to young girls in their early and mid-teens’.

The barrister said the offences were detected after one of the girls reported to Staffordshire Police in November 2011 that a man who said he had indecent images of her said he was going to send them to her boyfriend, which Quigg did.

The police investigation switched to Northern Ireland and in March 2012 Quigg's home was searched by the police.

The officers seized his personal computer and his mother gave the police another computer which her son also had access to.

The computers contained ninety indecent videos of children and 609 indecent photographs of children.

Almost all of the videos and photographs were categorised as being at the lower level in terms of seriousness.

“The defendant used the computers to use a website to search for females aged between thirteen and sixty from many countries,” the prosecutor said.

"He chatted online to a number of young girls whilst assuming the identities of two well-known television personalities.

Appalling

The court was told the defendant said he did this to appeal to the young girls, and sent the videos to the recipients in which he appeared to be one of these personalities.

The court heard the defendant did this ‘thousands of times’.

“He then encouraged the girls to expose themselves and coerced them into sexualised behaviour and he recorded the incidents,” the prosecutor added.

When he was arrested in October 2013, Quigg made immediate admissions, but the e-crime investigation into his offending continued for another three years.

Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said the offending was ‘reprehensible, inexcusable and appalling’ and he said Quigg would rightly suffer a degree of odium which society and the courts attached to such offending.

Mr. Devlin said Quigg had not re-offended since his crimes were uncovered and an experienced probation officer stated that the defendant's regret and remorse were both genuine and sincere.

He said Quigg, who has been assessed as presenting a low risk of re-offending had, since his arrest, lost his job, his life in England and had also self-harmed.

Judge Babington said he would sentence Quigg, from Curragh Road in Dungiven, on Friday and he released him on continuing bail until then.

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