- Anthony Nelson was caught by an undercover cop pretending to be child
- Police traced Nelson after parent found messages on their child’s account
- Paedophile faces jail and will be sentenced later this month
A paedophile posed as a 13-year-old girl on Facebook to groom children but was caught by an undercover police officer.
Anthony Nelson, 52, tried to arrange meetings with the youngsters, some of whom were in primary school, so he could abuse them.
But he became the victim of a double-bluff – because one of his targets was really an undercover police officer also pretending to be a child.
Nelson, from Shildon, County Durham, is now facing a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to a string of sickening charges in court.
One of the charges includes the possession of more than 1,300 images of extreme child pornography.
Last night, police warned of the dangers of social networking sites and called on adults to carefully monitor what their children do online.
Twice-married Nelson was arrested in January when it emerged he had contacted an 11-year-old girl through a false Facebook account he had set up.
He slyly gained the confidence of his victims by pretending to be a 13-year-old girl – persuading some of them to send him their mobile telephone numbers.
The depraved dad then began engaging in sexually explicit text messages with the youngsters – some of primary school age – and tried to set up meetings.
But he was unaware one of his intended victims was in fact an undercover officer from Durham Constabulary.
A concerned parent had alerted the police about the Facebook messages sent to their own child – and detectives discovered there were many more.
An examination of Nelson’s computer showed he had contacted dozens of children from around the country over six months.
Police have spoken to the parents of the youngsters and to schools to tell them what the former hotel night porter had been up to.
Shameful: Nelson sat in the dock with his head bowed and sobbed when he said he wanted to sexually abuse children
He pleaded guilty to making and possessing pictures of child abuse and bestiality, and inciting children to engage in sexual activity at Teesside Crown Court on Monday.
With his head bowed and through occasional sounds of sobbing, he also admitted trying to arrange a meeting with a girl to commit a sex crime.
He was remanded in custody and will return to court on August 13 to be sentenced.
Speaking last night, Detective Constable Jonathan Stoker, who investigated the case, said that Nelson had preyed on his victims’ naivety in a sickening way.
He said: ‘Nelson has taken advantage of young children, some of whom were still in primary school, to fulfil his sexual desires.
‘While I have been speaking to some of the families affected by this case, one parent commented that ‘it was like he had been in their house’.
‘I would encourage parents and carers to make sure that if a child is part of a social network like Facebook, to check the account settings and to make sure it is as private as possible.’
Nelson admitted two charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence.
He also pleaded guilty to 17 counts of making indecent images of children, possessing 1,384 such images and possessing extreme pornography.