A man who was guilty of “grooming at the highest order” when he set up a fake modelling agency to take “dirty” photographs of young girls was jailed for five years.
As well as the jail term, split into two years custody and three on licence Derry Crown Court Judge Piers Grant, sitting in Belfast, ordered 23-year-old Scott Tootill to remain on the police sex offenders register for the rest of his life.
Judge Grant also imposed a life-long Sexual Offences Prevention Order barring Tootill 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.
Describing how Tootill took the deliberate and “calculated” decision to masquerade as a women to “lull them into a false sense of security,” the judge told the defendant the only reasonable inference to be drawn from his conduct was that he intended to have some form of sexual activity with his victims.
Tootill, originally from Limavady but whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, had pleaded guilty to three counts of inciting sexual activity with a child and two of attempting to facilitate child prostitution or involvment in pornography in March last year.
The charges arose, the court heard, when Tootill set up a fake modelling agency on Facebook 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 and during police interviews, Tootill admitted it was his intention to use his mobile phone to photograph the girls in pornographic shots.
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”.
He told Tootill the fact there were three victims was an aggravting factor as was the offer of £400 for posing, “a very substantial amount of money to young girls of this age”.
The judge said while Tootill’s guilty pleas was a mitigating factor and had come as a “considerable relief” to his victims, “I consider this to be an extremely, extremely serious case against vulnerable young women”.