A mother has told of her horror after her daughter was targeted by an Internet paedophile just hours after buying a webcam.
The woman said the 14-year-old had saved up her own money to buy the £25 web equipment - which allows users to show pictures of themselves on the web.
But within two hours of installing the camera on her bedroom computer the girl was asked to remove items of clothing and threatened by Canadian Mark Bedford, 21, who had posed as a friend of hers.
The woman, known as ‘Mrs Dee’ to protect her daughter’s identity, said she was disgusted that her daughter had become a victim of Bedford - accused of blackmailing more than 40 teenage girls in Kent into performing sex acts for him to see over the internet.
‘I was sickened,’ she said. 'My daughter always wanted a webcam that’s how all young people communicate with each other. She came downstairs and said: “I was talking to one of my friends and she was asking me to do things”.
‘It happened on one day. My initial reaction was annoyance that it had happened but I was fairly concerned that this had been her friend.’
Bedford had hacked into the account of one of the teenager’s friends and persuaded her to turn on her webcam. Mrs Dee said: ‘He could see her. I found out that through a webcam you can take photos.’
Ontario-based Bedford, who is studying a course on robotics and computers, asked to see round the girl’s bedroom and asked him to show him her bra.
When she refused he hacked into her email account and changed her password. The next day he pretended to be her after accessing her list of friends’ emails.
Mrs Dee said: 'I feel quite sorry for him if this is all his life is. At the time (my daughter) was quite upset. She thought she was being watched in her bedroom, she only turned the webcam on after he was arrested.
‘It was the first time she had ever used it.’
The incident took place on April Bank Holiday this year.
The teenager said she realised something was wrong when her friend ‘started asking her to do things’.
She said: ‘I thought she was just mucking around. First I was asked to flash my bra but if I had then he would have asked for more and more. That’s what happened to others.’
Kent Police are investigating 42 cases when Bedford groomed girls aged 9 to 15 who are all linked to each other through email contact lists.
Bedford will appear in court on Thursday in Canada on charges relating to another 58 victims from the country.
He is charged with two counts of child pornography, three counts of making child pornography, two counts of distributing child pornography and three counts of extortion. Police found video clips and photos of children on his bedroom computer.
Detective Inspector Steve Evans, who led the Kent investigation, said he expected that it could spread world wide and that more victims in the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells area and across the UK could be found.
Kent Police hope to press charges for the Kent offences in Canada within a month. Bedford faces a maximum sentence in Canada of 10 years.
Chris Crut, a forensic computer analyst with Kent Police, said parents should realise children are not safe in their own bedrooms.
He said: ‘The internet allows someone like Mark Bedford to target somebody on an entirely different continent as easily as he could someone next door.’