A Sidmouth man who ran a paedophile internet chat group has been jailed after police were tipped off by the FBI in America.

Nicholas Craig, aged 37, of All Saints Road, used four online aliases to hide his identity and posed as a 15-year-old boy from Slovakia when he acted as administrator of a Kik chat group called teenpixunder18.

The group was infiltrated by an FBI agent who discovered that it was being used as a front to exchange child abuse images and movies and for adults to share child sex fantasies. Police arrested Craig in February last year as a result of information from the FBI about the Kik chatroom.

Craig was found with the middle section of an anatomically accurate child sex doll when police searched his home. They found more than 1,000 images and movies on his computer, phone and a memory stick.

Officers also discovered that he had been using Twitter, Telegram or Instagram to contact children as young as 10 and engaging them in sexual chat.

Craig admitted three counts of attempted sexual communication with a child, one of distributing and 15 of making or possessing indecent images of children.

He was jailed for three years by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court. He was made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention order which will restrict his access to children and the internet for 10 years, and put on the sex offenders’ register for the same period of time.

The judge told him: ”It is quite clear that you have a sexual interest in children and was acting on it. Still to this day, you underestimate and minimise the harm caused by your offences.

“The most significant aggravating feature is your role as administrator of a group which was sharing indecent images of children.”

Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Craig got involved in the chat groups while living on his own and isolated from normal human contact during the Covid lockdowns.

He said: “He entered the rabbit hole of the online indecent images community and has to accept that he travelled a fair way down that rabbit hole.”