A BRADFORD man bragged online about indecent images he had taken, not realising he was chatting to an undercover police officer on the other side of the Atlantic.

The US authorities then flagged up Haseeb Rashad’s online activity to the UK’s National Crime Agency, and a British undercover officer made contact with the now 23-year-old.

Once arrested, Rashad was found to have around 600 indecent images of children on his phone and computer.

Only 19 and 20 at the time of the offences, he was said to have been “groomed” by an older man who encouraged him to take his own indecent images.

This led to Rashad, of Highlands Close, Bradford, taking two indecent photos of a young boy and sending them on to at least one other person via Snapchat.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Rashad suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and was described as being “abnormally compliant and suggestible” in a report presented to the court.

He pleaded guilty to a total of nine charges, eight of which related to indecent images of children, with the final charge being possessing prohibited images of children.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Crown CourtBradford Crown Court

The charges covered a year-long period from March 2019 to March 2020 and included taking two category C indecent photographs of a young boy and distributing those images; distributing eight category A, 16 category B and 7 category C indecent photographs of children, and making 388 category A, 115 category B and 85 category C indecent photographs of children.

Recorder Benjamin Nolan QC sentenced Rashad to 26 months in prison. He received 18 months for two counts of category A offences, nine months for two category B offences and six months for the category C offences, all of which will be served concurrently. He also received eight months for taking and distributing indecent images of a child.

Rashad was placed on the sex offenders register for ten years and he was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for ten years. His electronic devices, including phone and computer, were forfeited.

In sentencing, the Recorder said: “These offences were particularly vile involving very young children. Making and distributing images of children are serious incidents and require substantial sentencing.”

The prosecutor told the court that Rashad initially began chatting to an undercover officer in the US using cloud-based instant messaging service Telegram, under the user name UKLad21, in March 2020.

He bragged about the indecent images he had taken, and shared links online to other indecent images, all for “acceptance and credibility”.

His activity was flagged up by the US authorities to the National Crime Agency, and an undercover officer from the UK, posting as SwimDad, sought Rashad out online.

In their chats, Rashad was said to have posted about “hoping to get married and have his own children to abuse” and about travelling to Eastern Europe to abuse children there, as well as detailing how he gained his victim’s trust and co-operation through a game of truth or dare.

Rashad was arrested on March 20, 2020, and initially did not admit that he had a sexual interest in children.

He told police that he had not actually viewed the indecent images in the links he posted online for others - but had just clicked on them once and then shared them.

Rashad co-operated with the police investigation by handing over his code to unlock his phone and gave permission for his online account to be accessed.

An examination of both his phone and computer, saw most of the indecent images found on his phone, with some in a secure folder entitled “my eyes only”.

In his defence the court heard that Rashad had been abused and “groomed” by an older man, who had persuaded the defendant to take the indecent images of a young boy.

He was “guided, encouraged and incited”, adding that Rashad, who had the victim of a traumatic experience, suffered from PTSD as a result and had a social anxiety disorder too.

His barrister said that Rashad had tried to get out by deleting the app he used to chat to others, but had relented and eventually reinstalled it.

“He has the motivation and capacity to change,” he added.

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