Man jailed for 21 years after using social media to prey upon 26 children
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A man who abused and blackmailed dozens of victims after contacting them using social media has been jailed for 21 years thanks to the award-winning work of our specialist child exploitation proactive investigation team.
Jay Lang’s offending took place between April 2018 and November 2021.
During that time, he posed as a 16-year-old girl named Chloe on social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram in order to make contact with similar-aged boys – some of whom were as young as 11.
During those interactions, Lang would pursue sexualised conversations and would ask for the boys to reciprocate with images and / or videos.
Once images had been exchanged, Lang, 24, would reveal himself as a man and either make blackmail demands for additional images or money. In the case of two victims, Lang arranged to meet with them. During those meetings, Lang did commit contact offences.
In total, the specialist officers and staff in the investigation team were able to secure charges in relation to 26 victims he targeted.
And as a result of that work, he had no option but to admit a total of 46 charges, including numerous counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing or inciting child sexual exploitation, arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence, causing or inciting child prostitution of pornography and blackmail.
This is the moment he realised he wasn't getting away with what he had done.
He was sentenced today, Friday 22 September, at a hearing Basildon Crown Court during which Judge Samantha Cohen praised the work of the team in what is the largest child exploitation investigation ever undertaken by Essex Police.
Her Honour Judge Cohen jailed Lang for 21 years and ordered him to be the subject of a six-year extended licence period.
He will serve a minimum of 14 years in jail before being eligible for release.
Lang’s name will also be placed on the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life. He will also be the subject of a sexual harm prevention order, to run for the rest of his life, meaning all contact with children, either online or in-person, will be severely restricted.
The judge commended the bravery of Lang’s victims and cited the “appalling consequences” of his offending, leading to victims suffering significant anxiety and distress, with their schooling also disrupted.
Commending the investigative team, Her Honour Judge Cohen said:
“The Essex Police investigation has been a tour de force with a significant number of officers involved but three stand out. “Detective Sergeant Ben Rushmere, to whom the coordination and planning fell. “Hayley Langmead, the officer in the case who bore responsibility for making contact with hundreds of teenage boys who were potential victims, with sensitivity, determination and resilience. “Secondly Steven Tilley, who was faced with dealing with the analysis of Lang’s telephone; a huge volume of material marshalled and presented in such a way as to be in no doubt of Lang’s involvement. “As a result, this investigation was able to expose and stop Lang’s offending and I commend you.”
Hundreds of gigabits of data
The scale of Lang’s offending was uncovered after an initial report was made to us in November 2021.
Officers then arrested Lang at his home in Thorney Bay Road, in Canvey, and his electronic items were seized and examined whilst he was released on bail with strict conditions.
As the electronic items were interrogated, we became increasingly concerned around the scale of the offences which had taken place.
However, the imagery which colleagues in Canvey and Rochford CID had uncovered proved to only be the beginning of the team’s 18-month investigation.
Officers and staff trawled through hundreds of gigabits of phone data in order to identify social media accounts which Lang had interacted with.
Once that work was completed, each potential victim then had to be carefully approached and safeguarded.
The vast majority of identified victims are from Canvey Island, Benfleet, Basildon and Southend-on-Sea and could only be identified thanks to the collaboration with our partners in social care, rape and sexual abuse specialist service SERICC, the Educational Safeguarding Board and the Children’s Society. It was only with the work of these organisations that we were able to build the case against Lang with the support of victims and their families.
As a group, each organisation has worked with schools in response to the investigation around online safety and developed bespoke information leaflet for victims and potential victims.
Largest child exploitation investigation by Essex Police
Detective Sergeant Ben Rushmere, who leads the child sexual exploitation proactive investigation team, said:
“Today’s sentence rightly highlights the true scale of Lang’s horrific offending. He used social media to prey upon young people and exploit them either for financial gain or for his own gratification. “But much more important than Lang, I would like to commend each and every victim, and their families, who came forward and worked with us. It is only with their candour and support that we have been able to build a case so strong that Lang was left with no other option but to admit 46 extremely serious offences. “This is without doubt the largest scale child exploitation investigation Essex Police has ever embarked upon and it has required extraordinary commitment from our team to ensure each identified victim has received justice. “Special mentioned must go to detectives constables Hayley Langmead and Steven Tilley, who were instrumental in ensuring the scale of Lang’s offending was uncovered. Their commitment to this investigation was unwavering and I know the families or our victims have appreciated everything they had done.”
Keeping people safe
Chief Inspector Paul Hogben, district commander for Rochford and Castle Point, added:
“This investigation and its result undoubtedly has made our district, and those surrounding it, a much safer place for our community. “We have teams in place, both locally and across our force, which are dedicated to keeping the people of Rochford and Castle Point safe and ensuring those who would do harm are arrested, charged and ultimately punished by the court.”
We will work hard to bring justice
Jeanette Smith, Specialist Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said:
“Jay Lang was calculating in his offending and created a false persona to target young boys online. “The male victims in this case believed they were talking to a real teenage girl but became trapped in a web of fear where their own images became tools of manipulation and extortion by Lang, leaving them increasingly vulnerable to his depraved demands. “This conviction sends a clear message that the CPS, alongside the police, will work hard to bring justice to those who sexually abuse and exploit children, however that abuse takes place. “We urge victims to report these crimes, there is support out there and you are not alone.”
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