Ryan Croft has been jailed.

A young man from Eastbourne has been jailed after causing and inciting a number of girls aged as young as eight to engage in sexual activity.

Ryan Croft, 23, unemployed of Rye Street, pleaded guilty to 18 sexual offences, which also included downloading and possessing indecent images of children.

He also admitted to being in possession of extreme pornography, including a video depicting bestiality, and two portraying a depiction of rape.

Croft has been sentenced to eight years in prison, and then a further five on extended prison release licence supervision.

Detective Constable Chris Smith said:

“Croft contacted girls in some cases as himself, but he also pretended online to be a girl in her late teens who was a model.

“He befriended over 2000 young girls via Facebook, most in their early teens.

“Some had sent indecent images of themselves.

“Some girls were unidentified and it is also known he contacted girls abroad, as far as the United States and South East Asia.”

“He engaged in messaging and Skype to incite them into increasingly sexually explicit exchanges, including indecent acts and exchange of images.”

Croft will be a registered sex offender for life, and was served with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, severely restricting his access to young people and computers.

DC Smith added:

“This was a very complex case in which we had to gain the confidence of vulnerable young girls and their families, all of whom supported the prosecution and were ready to give evidence if needed.

“It is another worrying reminder that young people can be as vulnerable to sexual exploitation online as they can be in direct encounters.

“We do ask all young people and their families to exercise care and caution in online contact.

“What starts off as an innocent encounter can quickly develop into something much more sinister.”