Former Devon teacher admits blackmailing schoolgirls across Britain into sending him sexually explicit photos of themselves
A physics teacher blackmailed girls and young women into sending him sexually explicit photos of themselves.
And if they did not do what Zahid Akram, who used to live in Exeter, wanted the 37 year old threatened to tell their family and friends or expose them online.
Yesterday Akram was behind bars for what a judge branded ‘vile offences’.
He went online using one of a dozen profiles to chat to young women and schoolgirls around the UK and persuaded them to send him pictures of themselves in their bra and knickers.
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Police believe the married dad of two turned into a control freak who used online blackmail to bring some order to his ‘chaotic’ life.
Exeter Crown Court heard he is facing years behind bars after he admitted four charges of blackmail and one of causing or inciting a child aged 13-17 to prostitution or pornography.
Detectives believe there may be hundreds more victims who Akram contacted via Badoo and other social networking sites posing as a youngster – but also as a female.
Police think there are victims in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and in England – but none south of Bristol where Akram was employed for years at a Westcountry School.
Judge Francis Gilbert QC refused Akram, of Redditch, Worcs, bail and said:”He knew perfectly well what he was doing. What he was doing was extremely nasty.
“He persuaded a number of young girls to take off their clothes and show themselves wearing their underwear, bra and knickers.”
The judge said in one case he told a schoolgirl he knew the Christian names of her parents and would show them the pictures unless she sent more sexualised images.
“It put appalling pressure on her. It is a vile offence. He is an intelligent man, a teacher, he must have known what he was doing. It was appalling behaviour.”
The judge said he had blackmailed four young people including at least one schoolgirl in a very nasty way after meeting via the internet.
Detective Constable Steve Harris, of Devon and Cornwall Police who investigated the case, said he blackmailed vulnerable girls and young women aged between 13 and 30 and threatened to expose them online if they rejected his demands.
DC Harris said:”I think there are hundreds of victims he has contacted. They are aged between 13 and 30 and they live all other the UK, in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and from Bristol upwards.
“He approached them online using Badoo and other social networking sites. He had at least twelve profiles, mostly young males but one was as a woman.
“He was getting them to take a picture of themselves, with say no top on. Once he got that he then asked them to so other things that they did not want to do. It was an increase in sexualisation.
“If they refused he threatened to show the pictures to friends and family or post them online. In some cases he demanded money from them - £20 or £40 to use to top up his phone. It wasn’t a vast amount of money but these were vulnerable victims.
“He was blackmailing these women. His demands were about empowerment rather than sexual gratification. He had very little control over his life at work or at home.
“He also had £40,000 debts and he was not very good with money. He needed some way of taking control and this is what he ended up doing.
“He has no previous convictions. The matter came to us because one of the victims contacted police. She was being blackmailed and bravely came forward.
“We traced him and seized his computer equipment and realised there were a lot of people to trace all around the country.
“He did not target anyone at school where he worked for some years. He was anonymous to his victims who were vulnerable schoolgirls or young women.
“I believe there are hundreds more victims out there. We have not been able to trace many of them but they can contact us even now.”
The blackmail and incitement went on from October 2009 until January 2012. The victims cannot be identified.
Smartly suited Akram nodded in the dock when the judge remanded him in custody. He will be sentenced on November 14th at Exeter Crown Court.
His defence team asked for a pre sentence report and said bespectacled Akram has physical health problems, acute debt and parents who are both sick.
The judge warned him that he faces a prison sentence measured in ‘years not months’.