A man who posed as a woman and set up a fake modelling agency so he could take photographs of young girls has been handed a five-year sentence.
Scott Tootill (23) has also been ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and remain on it for the rest of his life.
Tootill appeared at Londonderry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, yesterday when he was handed a five-year sentence which was split into two years in prison followed by three on licence.
Judge Piers Grant also imposed a life-long Sexual Offences Prevention Order barring the Limavady man from contacting or working with children, using or owning a computer and mobile phone without express permission, contacting his teenage victims and from “loitering” around child-centred facilities. Tootill, whose address was given as care of Maghaberry prison, had pleaded guilty to three counts of inciting sexual activity with a child and two of attempting to facilitate child prostitution or involvement in pornography in March last year.
The court heard how he was involved in “grooming at the highest order”.
Describing how Tootill took the deliberate and “calculated” decision to masquerade as a woman to lull young girls into “a false sense of security”, the judge told the pervert the only reasonable inference to be drawn from his conduct was that he intended to have some form of sexual activity with his victims.
The charges arose, the court heard, when Tootill set up a fake modelling agency on the Facebook social network and was in contact with the three victims who were all 15 years old at the time.
Prosecuting lawyer Roseanne McCormick revealed that the fake agency had listed up to 100 young girls as friends.
She told the court that Tootill himself posed as a photographer, claiming to have worked for the agency for three years and in various text messages sent to the schoolgirls, he had asked them if they would be interested in “glamour” photography.
One victim, who was told she would be paid £400 for posing, went to Tootill's home and received further text messages from the modelling agency telling her the photos would be “naked pictures of her doing dirty stuff”.
When police raided Tootill's home they seized mobile phones and computer equipment. During police interviews, Tootill admitted it was his intention to use his mobile phone to photograph the girls in pornographic shots.
Yesterday, Judge Grant said he accepted Tootill had neither taken photographs nor touched any of the girls inappropriately, but that nevertheless “it's quite clear that they were considerably affected as a result”.