THE mother of a south Cumbrian girl was pivotal in bringing a 'depraved' sexual predator to justice, Cumbria Constabulary has said.

She discovered her eight-year-old daughter on a call with Timothy Jackson and contacted police.

Jackson, 46, was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

He had previously pleaded guilty to 13 offences, including causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, sexual communication with a child, and possessing indecent images of children.

Jackson was arrested in Lincolnshire in October 2019 after an investigation by police in Cumbria.

Following the sentencing, Acting Detective Sergeant Rob Hayes, of Cumbria Constabulary's crime and safeguarding team for the south of the county, said: “This was a complex and lengthy cyber investigation involving multiple partner agencies and police forces across England and Wales.

"We are grateful for the courage and patience of the initial victim and their family while we sought to identify other victims, and also the subsequent victims and their families who have supported our investigation.

"Jackson boasted to one of his victims that the police would never find out about him, and took steps to evade detection while continuing to groom children as young as eight.

"His stock phrase was ‘I don’t care what you look like or how old you are’.

"This investigation shows that Cumbria Police takes child online safety seriously, and we will pursue child sex offenders wherever they live and no matter what measures they take to hide their crimes.

"I encourage anyone who has concerns that a child may be a victim of online child sexual exploitation or abuse to contact us.

"Specialist officers, working together in partnership with support agencies across Cumbria, are here to investigate and bring perpetrators of these horrific crimes before the courts."

Brett Gerrity, for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “Timothy Jackson is a dangerous sexual predator who sought out children as young as eight years old on online chat sites in order to sexually exploit them for his own depraved sexual gratification.

"He showed utter disregard for the damage he would be causing to these young and impressionable children.

"The CPS and Cumbria Police worked closely together to build a strong case against him - which we presented to the court - outlining the full extent of Jackson’s online campaign of exploitation against his vulnerable victims.

“I hope that all those affected by his depraved actions will be able to move on with their lives and will see that justice has been served as he begins this sentence.

Preston Crown Court heard Jackson contacted seven children, aged between eight and 13, on online chat sites between 2017 and 2018, encouraging them to send him indecent images.

Judge Heather Lloyd spoke of the toll Jackson's actions had taken on a victim, saying the girl's mother 'wrongly feels she has let her daughter down'.

"Whereas her daughter was once a happy, care-free girl, she now says her daughter is suffering with mental health difficulties," said Judge Lloyd.

In addition to the custodial sentence, Judge Lloyd issued Jackson, of London Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire, with a sexual harm prevention order. Jackson must also sign the sex offender register for life and his IT equipment, used in committing the offences, is to be destroyed.