A “SEXUAL deviant” from Scarborough who targeted women and children over the internet has been jailed for seven years.

Michael Atherton, 42, of Westbourne Grove, contacted his victims using false Facebook and Facetime profiles to gain their trust before exposing himself to them.

His youngest victim was an eight-year-old girl from North Lincolnshire whose mother witnessed the offence, and Atherton – who also uses the surname Alderton – was found guilty of 17 offences at York Crown Court last Friday, including exposure, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and breach of a sexual offences prevention order.

Detective Constable Michelle Neighbour, of Scarborough Protecting Vulnerable Person’s Unit, said: “Michael Atherton is a sexual deviant who will now have a number of years in prison to reflect on his behaviour.”

Det Con Neighbour said Atherton’s conviction showed the importance of not accepting internet friend requests from unknown people, and two of his victims praised the work of police in ensuring he was caught and jailed.

The mother of the North Lincolnshire eight-year-old said: “I feel so relieved that justice has been done and he has been put into prison. This shows how the internet should be monitored at all times where your children are involved.”

Another, a woman from the Keighley area, was harassed by him for 10 years, from the age of 14, before she reported him to the police. She said: “Michael Atherton started harassing me from the age of 14 and did not stop for 10 years. He is a pest that never went away.and I am glad that I will finally be left alone.”

*To report a sexual offence contact police on 101 or . Specially-trained officers will deal with your case sensitively and confidentially. If you prefer not to give your name, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111.