Eaton coached 11-to-15-year-olds at a Sandwell
Kevin Eaton has been jailed after pretending to be a 14-year-old schoolgirl in order to strike up online conversations with children before goading them into performing sexual acts.
A Midland youth football coach has been jailed for six years after setting up social media accounts under the guise of a schoolgirl and persuading youngsters to strip for him on webcams.
Kevin Eaton - who coached 11-to-15-year-olds at a Sandwell junior team - pretended to be a 14-year-old schoolgirl in order to strike up online conversations with children before goading them into performing sexual acts.
But Eaton's true identity as a 30-year-old roofer from Tipton was revealed on December 19, 2012, when the mum of a 13-year-old girl reported online threats he'd made to her daughter.
And through detailed IT analysis West Midlands Police officers traced the computer Eaton had used to an address in Aldridge Road, Oldbury.
The force's specialist Child Online Safety Team (COST) carried out an 'e-forensics' examination of Eaton's online activity - trawling thousands of emails and social media exchanges - and found he'd contacted up to a hundred children with his alter ego, including two boys he coached at the football club.
Eaton was charged with 20 counts of inciting boys and girls to engage in sexual activity in front of webcams, seven counts relating to making indecent images of children - having encouraged them to send him naked photos - and three of distributing the images.
Nineteen of the incitement charges concerned seven children - aged between 11 and 14 - who officers were able to identify through their painstaking IT examinations, while the final generic charge relates to 23 young victims police have not traced.
He admitted all 30 offences - committed from July 2011 to March 2013 - and at Wolverhampton Crown Court today (Jan 15) was sentenced to six years in jail and ordered to sign the sex offender's register for life.
A sex offenders prevention order (SOPO) was also passed, preventing Eaton from ever working with children - including in a voluntary capacity - and from sleeping in the same building as any children under 16 years old.
Investigating officer Det Con Rob Piper said: "Eaton created a fictitious Facebook profile with the sole purpose of inciting children to perform sexual acts. He knew several of these children and would see them during his football coaching role.
"This was a shocking abuse of trust, especially given that Eaton also had the role of Child Protection Officer at the football club. In fact, some of his victims even confided in him that 'Charlotte' was making threats against them online and asked for his advice.
"Many of these children realised they'd gone too far in sending naked images of themselves and were petrified 'Charlotte' would carry out threats to share the images with friends and family if they didn't bow to his demands. One of his victims was so upset by Eaton's actions that she tried committing suicide."
DC Piper used the case to highlight the dangers of engaging in flirtatious online exchanges with strangers and warned that predatory online paedophiles, like Eaton, could be hiding behind facades of teenage children.
He added: "Parents need to play an intrusive role in their children's online activity to make sure they don't come to any harm while surfing the net. You need to be absolutely certain who you're talking to online - your son or daughter may believe they're chatting with another teenager but, in reality, it could be someone much older with sinister intentions.
"Parents shouldn't feel awkward asking their children what they're up to online and who they're conversing with on social media. Perhaps have an agreement that they only use the internet in an overt manner, in the living room, rather than squirreled away in their bedrooms.
"And ask whether your child really needs a webcam in their bedroom? If a child is persuaded to expose themselves in front of a camera then they've lost control of that image or video and it could be floating around online forever.
"Offenders are sometimes very tech savvy - but West Midlands Police has a dedicated team of online child protection specialists and IT experts who are capable of following their online tracks and exposing their activity. We're making notable arrests on a daily basis and as a result helping prevent youngsters from becoming victims."
The national Child Exploitation & Online Protection (CEOP) team has developed a website - Think You Know - which provides web safety advice and a guide on how to report worries or concerns about people you're chatting to online.