North West Regional Organised Crime Unit


Wed 02nd, May

Joshua Probert's offences only came to the attention of Police after a brave Merseyside victim came forward to report that following interactions with Probert online, he had began a horrific campaign of blackmail and sexual assault.

A 22 year-old man from Grimsby has been jailed at Liverpool Crown Court after admitting offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 within England, Europe and the United States of America.

Joshua Probert, of Portland Avenue, interacted with young women on the internet, blackmailing them into sending intimate photos and videos to him online.

Officers from Titan, the North West regional organised crime unit and Merseyside Police conducted a joint investigation to identify him.

A complex cyber investigation commenced as a result and in November 2017, Titan officers obtained a search warrant and travelled to Grimsby where they executed the warrant and arrested Probert. During the search a variety of electronical equipment was seized and forensically reviewed.

Probert pleaded guilty to 66 offences, including blackmail and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was sentenced today to 12 years in custody with an additional extended licence of four years at Liverpool Crown Court today, Tuesday 1st May.

Detective Inspector Andy Milligan said: "Probert callously exploited his victims and forced them to perform sexual acts by blackmail online.

"Probert was a danger to the public and preyed upon vulnerable people.

"Sexual exploitation exists in lots of different forms and it is not always obvious to the victim when it first starts happening. The web provides an opportunity to hide who people really are and the real reason for contacting them in the first place. Once they have won the victim’s trust, offenders can exploit them for sexual or financial gain and the consequences for that person can be dreadful.

"In this case, Probert took steps to attempt to make himself anonymous but I would like to highlight that offending online is not anonymous and the police and other law enforcement agencies are able to trace, arrest and imprison offenders.

"I would like to take this opportunity to reassure and urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual exploitation or knows of anyone victim to this to come forward and speak to us, we will deal with you sensitively and make sure that reports are properly and thoroughly investigated.

"My advice to anyone considering posing for explicit photos would be don’t, no matter what, say no.

"This investigation was conducted in partnership with Europol. This collaborative approach assisted in identifying and supporting vulnerable victims, and apprehending Probert.”