Jailed: Upminster man masqueraded as a girl to encourage young boy to send nude images

Jeremy Merritt. Picture: Essex Police

Jeremy Merritt. Picture: Essex Police - Credit: Archant

A 36-year-old man has been jailed for two years for pretending to be a girl and inciting a boy into sexual activity.

Jeremy Merritt from Tyrells Close, Upminster, was sentenced for two years in prison at Basildon Crown Court today (Thursday, November 15) for inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He also received 12 months for five counts of making indecent images of children after he was found with 640 indecent images and movies of boys.

This will run concurrently alongside his two-year sentence.

Between August 1 and September 25 in 2016, a boy believed he was talking to a girl online.

The girl, who was in fact Merritt, claimed she was a distant cousin of his from America and told him to send nude pictures.

After discovering the conversation, the victim’s mother called the police and officers went to Merritt’s home to arrest him.

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While arresting Merritt, he told police officers that his second cousin had access to his computer.

They searched his house and seized phones, computers and USB sticks and found hundreds of indecent images and videos of boys of varying categories, including category A which is the most serious category of abuse imagery.

Investigating officer DC Matthew Musson, from Basildon CID, said: “Merritt targeted a young, vulnerable boy and impersonated a girl who claimed to be a relative in order to entice him to send images.

“He was arrested and claimed to have been hacked before later blaming relatives.

“This did not account of the hundreds of sickening and disturbing images he had on his devices.

“I want to thank the boy and his family for their bravery in coming forward and reporting this behaviour. I hope today’s outcome offers them justice.”

Merritt, who is formerly from Aveley, was found guilty by a unanimous jury following a trial on Monday, September 3.

He has been placed on the sex offenders’ register and has been given a sexual harm prevention order, both for 10 years.