Dean Davidson, of Brockwood Close, Ashington, preyed on children online and in person for his own sexual gratification from 2004 until 2020.
But the 38-year-old was arrested in October 2020 after police received intelligence from Instagram that he had shared an indecent image of a child via the app.
Specialist detectives from Northumbria Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) seized Davidson’s digital devices – uncovering a bank of disturbing images and videos. This led to uncovering further offline offending.
They discovered that Davidson used fake profiles under a number of different aliases, pretending to be both young boys and girls, to develop online relationships with children and deceive them into sharing photographs.
Davidson appeared at Newcastle Crown Court in April 2021 and pleaded guilty to all charges which included multiple counts of sexual activity with a child, inciting sexual activity with a child, making indecent images of a child, possession of extreme pornography and distributing indecent images.
On Friday (July 2). he was back at that same court, where a judge sentenced him to a total of 17 years behind bars, with another six years to be served on extended licence.
Leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Cass-Williams, has praised the bravery of each victim that has spoken out and aided the investigation.
Det Chief Insp Cass-Williams said: “Speaking out takes enormous courage and we’re very proud of every single one of the victims for opening up and helping us to not just make sure a predator like Davidson never works in a school again, but is locked up and denied access to the tools he relied on to prey on others.
“This offending is particularly horrific due to the position of trust Davidson had with these children and the length of time over which he has committed offences against so many innocent victims.”
She added: “We urge all victims of any sexual assault or online grooming to please speak up.
“We can’t promise to take away the pain of what has already happened but by working together and speaking out, we can help you find the support you need and seek the justice you deserve.”
Davidson was also handed an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which will place restrictions on him on his release from prison and will have to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life. He was also barred from working with children.
Claire Brinton, Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS North East, added: “Dean Davidson abused the trust placed in him to carry out numerous offences over a number of years. Given the span of these offences and the number of victims involved, this has been a particularly complex case. I would like to praise the work of investigating officers from Northumbria Police and also acknowledge the bravery of those victims who have come forward to provide key evidence in this case.
“The Crown Prosecution Service has worked closely with police to build a robust case against Davidson, securing his guilty pleas to a significant pattern of serious sexual offending. We sincerely hope that all of those affected by his actions can take some measure of comfort from the sentence passed on him today.”
In April this year, a dedicated helpline was commissioned by the Department for Education, run by NSPCC, to support and advise victims of sexual abuse in educational settings and those who have concerns about sexual abuse in an educational environment can call the helpline on 0800 136 663 or email [email protected]
Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse – recent or non-recent – are urged to report it to the Northumbria Police website via Tell us something or contact 101.
The CPS have advised that the schools where Davidson worked should not be named in any capacity.