The Sunday Mirror has exposed what it has called “an international child abuse network” on Twitter.
An investigation into how paedophiles use the social networking site has also resulted in the jailing of a convicted sex offender, snared by a Sunday Mirror journalist posing as a paedophile.
The investigation, led by reporter Dominic Herbert, saw a 36-year-old man, who cannot be named, arrested by police hours after the paper handed over evidence from the paper. He was returned to prison after police discovered he was a convicted paedophile who had been released on licence earlier this year.
Posing as a paedophile himself, Herbert sent a direct message to the man on Wednesday night, after he had changed his profile picture to a photo of a child in underwear. Referring to images he had posted on the site, the man said: “I think I’m sailing close to the wind but I’ve also seen naughtier”.
The man had been jailed for two years at Swindon crown court after pleading guilty to possessing prohibited images of a child and making and distributing images of extreme pornography, including bestiality.
Wiltshire acting deputy chief inspector Mike Selbie said: “We would like to thank the Sunday Mirror for the evidence they presented in this matter.
“Although offenders like this man are managed while on licence, this highlights the importance of the public reporting wrongdoing. This information enables police to take quick action to prevent further offending.”
The Sunday Mirror said it had discovered 34 “suspect Twitter accounts” featuring images of victims as young as four. The paper claimed that further arrests were likely as a result of its investigation.
The long-running undercover probe into paedophiles on Twitter by the Sunday Mirror has already helped bring about the prosecution of Ian Edwards, who was sentenced to 18 months in June after he was found to be trading in child sex abuse images. He was one of two people arrested last August after the paper handed details of its investigation over to detectives in the Metropolitan Police’s paedophile unit.
Sunday Mirror reporters earlier this month unearthed Briton Michael Murphy in Spain after he had used Twitter to distribute pictures of naked teenagers.