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June 22 2015.

A Newhaven man has been sentenced for sex offences against young boys. Michael Cole, 30, unemployed, ofChestnut Way, Newhaven, appeared at Lewes Crown Court on Friday the 19th of June having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to 13 sexual offences.

He was sentenced to a total of four years imprisonment and issued a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for life, severely restricting his access to young children and computers, and will also be a registered sex offender for life.

They were eleven offences of inciting sexual activity with a total of nine local boys aged between 13 and 15 from the Newhaven and Seaford area, and two offences of possessing an indecent image of a child.

Ten of the eleven incitement offences related to on-line contact, one related to an offence of physical contact with one of the boys.

The charges, authorised by the CPS, followed an investigation into allegations that teenagers in the Seahaven area were being tricked and blackmailed into sending inappropriate images online.

Detective Constable Steve Shimmons said: "Between May and October last year a number of teenage boys in the area were contacted on-line by someone calling themselves Jenny Lane or jennylane1994, who claimed to be a 19 to 20-year-old woman from Essex who was moving to Brighton to study. This person, who turned out to be Cole, then requested or shared inappropriate images with them.

"All were duped into sending photographs of themselves in the belief they were talking to an attractive young woman who made promises to them, and who, once they had sent images, threatened to share the images if the victims did not send more. The promises included being sent naked photos and there was also talk of meeting up.

"When we investigated we found that Cole had used an array of social media, including Facebook and Skype, to contact teenagers and sent out more than 50 friend requests. These young boys came forward to say they had been contacted; three of them reporting that they were threatened with having images posted online if they did not send further inappropriate images.

"One of the boys was duped by 'Jenny Lane' into meeting 'her friend' Cole and sexual activity took place between them at Coles' home.

"It is clear that Cole's aim was to collect erotic photographs of local boys for his own gratification. He had to trick them into sending the photographs because all but one of them were heterosexual. When he found out one of the boys was gay, he immediately introduced his real self in order to meet the boy.

"The case is a further example of the reason that everyone, especially vulnerable young people, should be really careful about engaging on the web with people they do not know. I would urge parents and children to look closely at their "friends" lists on social media and delete anyone that they do not know.

"Cole poses a real danger to young people and we are glad that he has now been brought to justice. The sentence reflects the seriousness of his offences."