Man who committed sexual offences involving children in six counties including Derbyshire jailed
A man has been jailed after admitting a series of sexual offences involving children across six counties including Derbyshire.
Neal Hopkins pleaded guilty to 15 counts of engaging in penetrative sexual activity, three counts of causing/inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, one count of paying for the sexual services of a child and one count of causing a child to watch an image of sexual activity.
He also admitted five counts of taking an indecent photograph of a child and one count of distributing an indecent photograph of a child.
The charges, relate to several incidents that took place in Staffordshire, Derbyshire, North Wales, South Wales, Worcestershire and Yorkshire between 2013 and 2018 involving boys aged 13 to 15.
Hopkins, 46, of Stone Road, Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for eight years with an extended license for four years at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
He used social media and online chat websites to engage in online conversations with seven victims who were all under the age of 16.
He incited the victims - boys aged between 13 and 15 - to engage in sexual conversations and to send indecent images. On ten occasions, Hopkins met up with five individual boys and engaged in sexual activity. On one occasion, he gave one of the boys money.
Following his arrest on July 24, 2018, his mobile phone was seized and he was found to be in possession of indecent images of children. There was also evidence to show that he had engaged in sexual activity with children.
DS Steve Chadwick, of Staffordshire Police's Child Protection and Exploitation Team, said: "Child sexual exploitation takes place in many forms. In this case, Hopkins used social media to target his victims who were all under 16 years of age. He then proceeded to meet five victims in person in order to commit further crimes.
"I would like to thank all of the young people for having the courage to report these matters to the police, and I hope this result has provided them with some justice when coming to terms with what they have experienced because of Hopkins's actions.
"It is important that parents and carers take interest in the contact young people have with others online and via social media platforms, particularly those that may be targeted at an older audience and to recognise that all young people under 18 are at risk, whether they are boys or girls."