A "scheming individual" with an "entrenched" sexual interest in children who he preyed upon has been jailed.

Thomas Bulmer, 31, was just a teenager himself when he started offending by inciting a boy under 13 - who cannot be named for legal reasons - to engage in sexual activity while in a field in Norfolk.

Following that offence in 2006 Bulmer went onto commit a total of 25 other offences - mostly against people living in the Thetford area - over the next 17 years.

Norwich Crown Court heard in 2016 police became aware of Bulmer posing online under false profiles, both of which had incited children to send indecent images of themselves.

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich Crown CourtNorwich Crown Court (Image: Peter Walsh, Newsquest)Bulmer had also distributed indecent images of children and caused other children to watch indecent material comprising the defendant touching himself sexually.

Stephen Spence, prosecuting, said the enquiry initially came to Norfolk Constabulary's Safeguarding Children Online Team (SCOLT) due to the volume of children reporting concerns.

Mr Spence said Bulmer had an "entrenched and continuing sexual interest in children".

He said it "manifested itself in the solicitation, making and distribution of indecent images of children, carrying out sexual acts in the presence of children, either physical presence or over the internet, attempts at online grooming and contact offences".

The court heard Bulmer committed two offences of inciting a child to commit sexual activity, in getting a six or seven year old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons to touch him sexually.

He also got another boy, who was 13 at the time, to send the defendant images of his genitals in exchange for pictures of teen girls Bulmer would send.

Bulmer, who also engaged in sexual activity in the presence of a boy, 10, who had been in bed, appeared for sentence earlier this month having admitted 25 sexual offences, including two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

Eastern Daily Press: Thomas BulmerThomas Bulmer (Image: Suffolk Constabulary)The defendant, from Harleston Road, Langmere, near Diss was handed a 17-year extended sentence - made up of 11 years custody and six years on licence - by Judge Andrew Shaw.

Eastern Daily Press: Judge Andrew ShawJudge Andrew Shaw (Image: Newsquest)The court heard Bulmer, who was represented by Oliver Haswell, committed the first offence when he was only a child himself and had previously suffered abuse and a traumatic childhood.  

Mr Haswell said his guilty pleas had saved the victims from having to give evidence and he had shown some insight and remorse when assessed by the Probation Service.  

He said that since being remanded into custody, Bulmer had engaged positively and was now assisting other inmates with their literacy and mathematics and acting as a listener to those struggling within the Prison estate.

Speaking after the sentence, Sgt Naomi Harger from Suffolk Police said: "This was a horrific case regarding a manipulative and scheming individual. He preyed on children to satisfy his own perverse and deviant desires. 

"We are very satisfied with this sentence which I hope goes some way to reassure the public of the action we will take against those suspected of such offences."

She added: "We will do everything within our power to protect victims who are subjected to these potentially life changing acts of indecency purely for the gratification of others.”

The officer urged parents concerned about people their children might be in contact with to use Sarah's Law, or the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (CSODS).

It allows people to formally ask the police whether someone who has contact with a child or children has a record of child sexual offences or poses a risk to the child or children for some other reason.

It was developed in consultation with Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting after she disappeared from home in Surrey in 2000.