Boys in West Yorkshire – including Bradford and Leeds - were among hundreds of victims targeted by an "evil predator" who was jailed for 10 years today.

James Utting posed as a teenage girl online to induce 401 boys to send naked photos of themselves. He then shared the images with some of the victims' friends and family.

Utting, of St Michael's Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to 43 offences of possessing and distributing indecent images of children and engaging children in sexual activity relating to 11 victims.

The 36-year-old had gathered thousands of images of victims aged between eight and 15 and from around the country including Humberside, Grimsby, Leeds, Bradford and Barnsley.

Judge Jane Miller QC ruled that Utting posed a danger to children and sentenced him to 10 years in custody with an extended licence period of five years.

She said "It was both devastating and highly distressing for the boys, it will affect all of their lives.

"I hope they will be able to pick themselves up after your sentence and move forward, I hope they understand it wasn't their fault."

Matthew Lawson, prosecuting, told the court that Utting had created false social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat using the image of a 15-year-old girl.

The defendant would then entice his victims to send naked pictures of themselves and of them committing sex acts on themselves by sending them pornographic images purporting to be from the girl they believed they were in contact with.

Utting would then blackmail the boys by threatening to share the naked pictures of the boy to force them to send further images.

The defendant went through with the threat and sent the photos to schoolfriends and family members of 19 of his victims.

Mr Lawson added that some of the victims could be seen "crying and begging" the defendant to stop in the videos sent to him.

One victim, aged 14, said in a victim impact statement that "paranoia was everywhere" after the images were shared with other pupils at his school and added that he felt "low to the point where there was no meaning to life, I felt there was no tomorrow".

His mother described Utting as an "evil predator" and added of her son: "To watch him experience shame, hurt, paranoia, anxiety and depression was so hard.

"As a mother this has broken my heart and changed my view of the world forever."

Mr Lawson said that Utting told police that he had become "addicted" and "lost control of himself" as well as describing his actions as "cruel".

Richard Martin, defending, said that Utting had a "troubled life" and had been diagnosed as autistic.

Detective Constable Wendy Harrison, of Hampshire Police, said outside court: "Utting's offences were so prolific and caused so much trauma and distress to so many young people right across the country.

"He targeted and exploited young and vulnerable boys by hiding his true identity behind a fake and digital persona.

"I just hope this sentence can now allow those young people and their families to move ahead with their lives."