A ‘DEVIOUS and resourceful’ sex predator who repeatedly invited a 15-year-old boy to his home before plying him with alcohol and having sex with him has been jailed.

Paedophile Joseph Sweeney aggressively groomed two other boys online, encouraging them to send him photographs of themselves in the bath and shower.

A police investigation into the 38-year-old also revealed he had been communicating with a string of teenage boys online, despite being prohibited from doing so through the imposition of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) placed upon him for his previous offending.

Sentencing the Burnley man for a string of 45 charges, Judge Robert Altham described Sweeney as a ‘manipulative predator’ who has failed to see any wrongdoing in his offending.

Judge Altham said: “This defendant has a poor record, in particular he has committed serial offences in relation to indecent pictures and breaching protective orders.

“In the case of one victim, there was online grooming, online abuse and the commission of serious contact offending. There are further victims who were contacted and abused online, although there was no contact offending.”

Prosecuting the case, Richard Haworth said a police investigation was sparked after the father of one of the teenagers found messages on his son’s phone.

The probe into Sweeney and his actions uncovered a long list of further victims.

Preston Crown Court heard how in the most serious case, a 15-year-old boy was invited to Sweeney’s home on four occasions where the pair engaged in sexual activities.

Judge Altham said: “This victim was contacted by the defendant via Whatsapp and Facebook. The victim stated on his profile that he was 15 and there is no issue about the fact the defendant knew about this, in fact it seems this attracted him to the victim.

“His name become known to the police as a result of enquiries made following disclosures by another victim. The offending in relation to the most serious victim took place between August and December of 2019.

“The offending included online grooming – effectively pressurising his victim to sending indecent photographs of himself, and ultimately to four meetings where sexual acts were performed.

“He also sent photos taken of the victim to others, with the defendant taking and sending indecent images of himself masturbating in the bath and sending them to the teenagers.

“There is no doubt that this defendant vented a sexual campaign against this child.

“There were four occasions where following this campaign of aggressive grooming, the child went to his address. It is during these visits that the contact offending happened. This offending is aggravating by the fact alcohol was used.”

Defending Sweeney, Bob Elias said the defendant had been subjected to sexual abuse himself as a child, where he was effectively ‘prostituted’ by his own father.

He said: “In relation to the main offending, the defendant would say that this was a freely entered relationship with a young lad who was keen and willing to engage in sex with the defendant.

“The defendant would say that this was a boyfriend-type relationship and that the victim was happy to go through with this. There is no suggestion of him being forced or being raped.

“This defendant has gone through abuse himself as a child, when his father essentially prostituted him about to his friends.”

He added: “I do have to concede that my client is dangerous.”

Sentencing Sweeney to eight years and eight months in prison, with a further five years on extended licence, Judge Altham added: “This defendant’s antecedents tell me a number of things, particularly the fact that he is utterly incorrigible.

“He is a devious, resourceful, manipulative, persistent sexual predator.

“He has already shown that the protective orders and measures taken in the community just cannot control the risk he possesses.

“It seems to me that there is an overwhelming likelihood that unless restrained by a lengthy prison sentence, reviewed by the parole board, he will offend again and will cause serious harm.”