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Mental health care assistant groomed underage patients on Snapchat

A mental health care assistant who groomed vulnerable underage patients at the clinic where he worked into sending him sexualised pictures of themselves has admitted five charges.

Daniel Knight, from Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, contacted a teenage girl on Snapchat after they met at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) facility where she was a patient.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the 32-year-old sent the girl sexualised messages and encouraged her to send indecent images and videos of herself.

He sent her photos of himself in return and also tried to meet her for sexual purposes, even though he knew she was underage, the court heard.

The photos he sent the teenager did not show his face, but officers from the NCA were able to prove it was Knight after finding clothing in his house which matched those in the pictures.

The teenager helped officers identify another two underage victims at the same Camhs facility, both of whom said Knight had contacted them via Snapchat.

One of them said Knight had offered to buy her cocaine and alcohol and meet up with her, and that she had sent him dozens of photos of herself.

Knight was arrested in April last year after one of his victims reported what had happened via the NCA’s child exploitation and online protection tool.

He resigned from his position at the Camhs facility in August 2021 following his suspension, after one of the victims reported his alleged behaviour to management there.

After his arrest, investigators spoke with another seven witnesses who all said Knight had tried to contact them in a sexualised way.

However, they never engaged in online conversations with him.

Knight admitted at Stafford Crown Court on Friday three charges of encouraging the commission of an offence and two counts of making indecent images of children

He denied one count of stalking and two counts of breaching an interim sexual referral order and will face trial at the same court on October 9.

He will be sentenced for the three offences he admitted to after that trial concludes.

NCA operations manager Danielle Pownall said: “Daniel Knight abused his position of trust in the most deceitful way imaginable, exploiting vulnerable young girls to satisfy his sexual needs.

“I would like to thank all the victims who provided evidence to help secure today’s guilty pleas.

“Their bravery is commendable and shows that anyone reporting online sexual abuse to law enforcement will be listened to.

“We continue to do all we can to tackle the perpetrators of this crime type and bring people like Knight before the courts.”