A PERVERT posed as a priest in a webcam confession box to expose himself to young girls.

Stephen Simons has been jailed for five years after admitting a string of sex crimes he committed from behind his computer.

The divorced Bicester man targeted children in online chatrooms while acting as a vicar offering advice, Oxford Crown Court heard. But the 52-year-old, of Medina Gardens, would then expose himself on another webcam pointing at his groin.

Prosecutor Michael Roques told the court: “This is someone who is systematically trawling the internet for victims.”

Judge Mary Jane Mowat said Simons’ crimes were unique amongst the hundreds of cases she had seen in the past 25 years.

She said his collection of nearly 12,700 indecent images contained hundreds of the most serious kind, including videos she described as amongst “the vilest“ she had seen.

But she said Simons’ worst crimes were against children last year. She said: “This involved you constructing an elaborate set-up on your computer with two webcams above and below a table.

“You contacted numerous young girls in random chatrooms dressed as a priest sitting in front of that table with a curtain draped behind you – creating something of the air of a confessional.

“Whilst recording everything, you engaged these children in conversations on the pretext of you being a priest offering them help.”

The judge said Simons then cut to the other webcam to show the young viewers that he was touching himself beneath the table.

She said: “Everything you were doing – it seems with numerous girls – you recorded systemati-cally for your own gratification.”

Claire Fraser, defending, said her client was seeking help for his “addiction”.

She said: “He is starting the process of acknowledging he has a problem and starting to deal with that. He has stopped and is addressing the addiction he has.” She said Simons should not be considered dangerous as he had not had physical contact with victims.

Simons, who the court heard has previous convictions for exposure in 1989 and 99, admitted two counts of showing indecent photos or pseudo-photos of children on a chatroom, three counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of children aged 13 to 15, and one count of causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity.

All the crimes took place last March and April. He also admitted nine counts of making indecent images of children between January 2011 and last April.