September 2023

Depraved man fascinated by rape targeted more than 100 young girls

A “depraved” sex offender with a fascination with rape targeted scores of young girls online.

Caleb Courtman engaged in sexually explicit conversations with them after approaching them on social media platforms, and then bullied and blackmailed them into sending explicit images and into performing sex acts on camera.

He also downloaded more than 2,000 indecent images, took clandestine photos of young girls in their back gardens, looked for babysitting jobs, and went on school websites and Facebook pages.

The offending continued – and increased in seriousness – after he had been arrested and released on police bail.

Making the defendant the subject of a 24-year extended sentence as a dangerous offender, a judge said it was clear he was a “deeply entrenched paedophile” who posed a “quite exceptionally high risk of serious harm” to young girls in the future.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court the offending came to light in December last year after police received information that indecent images had been uploaded to the internet via accounts linked to Courtman.

The defendant was arrested and his phones and laptops were seized, and after being interviewed – during which he answered “no comment” to all questions – be was released on bail.

The prosecutor said while on bail Courtman continued to offend, with his offending becoming “ever more insidious”. He was arrested again in February this year.

The court heard the police investigation showed that over the course of many months – both before and after his arrest – Courtman had been engaging in sexually explicit conversations with dozens of young girls around the UK after contacting them on social media platforms, especially the Wink app.

Courtman sent the children photographs of his erect penis, talked about them coming to his home in Swansea for sex, and pressurised and bullied them into send him intimate videos and photographs of themselves.

On a number of occasions he blackmailed his young victims into sending further and more explicit images by threatening to publish the images he had for the world to see, or threatening to harm their parents and siblings unless they complied.

He also pressurised the children into filming themselves performing sex acts and sending him the footage.

The prosecutor said Courtman seemed to have a particular fascination with the topic of rape, and would persistently quiz the girls – many of whom were aged 12 or 13 – about whether they had been raped, and said he wanted to rape them.

During the investigation South Wales Police detectives found more than 2,000 indecent images and videos on the defendant’s devices showing boys and girls as young as two years old who being sexually abused and raped by adults – some by a man wearing a distinctive black balaclava with a white skull motif on the front.

They also found photos of young girls in their back gardens that Courtman had taken while he was living in Cardiff.

The prosecutor said when the defendant’s internet history was examined, police found not only had he been searching for material about incest and rape but had also been looking for information on babysitting and nannying jobs, and had visited the Facebook pages and websites of schools in the Swansea area.

Detectives also found WhatsApp conversations about rape which the defendant had engaged in with fellow paedophiles.

The court heard details of a statement from the mother of one of the young victims in which she described the pain and distress Courtman had caused, and how he had taken away her daughter’s innocence. She said she hoped that one day her child will “find happiness in herself again”.

Caleb Courtman, aged 20, of Davies Row, Treboeth, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to 35 offences of engaging in sexual communications with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, possession of indecent images of categories A, B, and C, distribution of an indecent image, voyeurism, and blackmail when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

Another 98 offences were taken into consideration. 

Judge Paul Thomas KC said on any view the case was “quite exceptional”. He told the defendant that over the course of many months he had engaged in behaviour which had caused great distress and harm to more than 100 young girls, and he said the scale and nature of his offending showed “the depth and breadth of your depravity”.

Judge Thomas said Courtman was a “deeply entrenched paedophile”, and he told him: “There is not a shadow of a doubt you pose a quite exceptionally high risk of serious harm to young girls in the future”.

He said he believed had the defendant not been stopped he would have gone on to commit contact – that is physical – offences with children.

With a one-third discount for his guilty pleas Courtman was given an extended 24-year sentence in a young offenders institution comprising 16 years in custody followed by an eight year extended licence period.

The defendant must serve two thirds of the custodial element of the sentence in custody before he can apply for release but it will be for the Parole Board to determine if he is safe to be released.

Courtman will be a registered sex offender for life.