A man from Bury who used a fake account to take and share thousands of images of young boys from the UK and the US has been jailed.

Thomas Morton 34, of Percy Street, was convicted of 25 offences mostly including the sexual exploitation of children at Manchester Crown Court and ordered to serve 10 years in prison.

The court heard how Morton used a fake online profile purporting to be a schoolgirl on social media platforms and engaged in sexual conversations with young boys, before making them send indecent images and perform sexual acts.

A total of 6032 images – including 623 in the most severe category A – were found on Morton’s devices after officers from GMP’s Sexual Crime Unit executed a search warrant at his address on Tuesday 3 March 2020 following information that indecent images had been distributed at an address linked to Morton.

These images consisted of victims who Morton had been in direct contact with via his social media alias, and of other widely-shared images of children which he had received from other like-minded individuals.

One of the devices was a Samsung Galaxy phone which appeared as though there had been an attempt to snap the device in half prior to the police gaining entry.

The sheer extent of Morton’s offending quickly became clear to investigators as substantial amounts of evidence repeatedly showed him befriending boys online with a view to grooming them for sexual gratification.

Detectives also discovered evidence of Morton disseminating a large number of images to other individuals via the internet.

Police identified 14 of the victims – aged between 8 and 15 at the time of the offences – from across the United Kingdom and United States of America and have been working closely with the relevant local authorities to support the boys and their families.

Morton was later charged with 21 child sex offences and admitted each count at Manchester Crown Court in February this year, as well as three separate counts of making indecent images and breaching his sexual harm prevention order.

He was sentenced to 16 years – 10 of which will be spent behind bars and six on licence – and ordered to sign the sex offender’s register.

Detective Constable Vicky Hadfield, of GMP’s Sexual Crime Unit, said: “I firstly want to pay tribute to the victims and their families who have been profoundly impacted by the abhorrent and predatory actions of Thomas Morton. Their bravery and dignity has been admirable.

“They have remained at the heart of this investigation throughout and we have ensured that they and their families have received the appropriate support from partner agencies.

“Morton is a massive danger to children; he deliberately created a fake online profile with the perverted intention of coercing young boys into unwittingly sending him indecent images for his, and others’, sexual gratification.

“This has been a long and intense investigation and I thank all of the team involved in this case for the meticulous work they have done to bring Morton to justice and put him behind bars for a considerable amount of time.

“The hurt and horror of this kind of crime stays with victims and families for life, and I would encourage anyone affected by this case to contact police, or our partners, to report any abuse or exploitation so that the relevant authorities can act on it.”


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