A RESPECTED business manager who led a sinister double-life as a pervert with an interest in young boys is starting a four-year jail sentence.

Steven James tricked one youngster into posing naked for him by pretending on-line that he was a 15-year-old from the US called 'Beach Girl'.

He was also caught with more than 450 indecent images of children after police raided his Darlington home and seized his computers in May last year.

James, 36, used specialist software to delete some of his pictures "beyond forensic recovery", and to disguise his internet search history.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he also encrypted huge files and either would not or could not give police passwords to examine what was inside of them.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told him: "The gravamen of this offence is that nobody knows what remained on your computer.

"Many who appear before me charged with indecent images remain in their homes, looking at the images and not seeking to carry out their fantasies.

"You contacted that boy. You knew how old he was, and you disguised your age and your gender . . . you used him for your own vile interests."

James, of Victoria Embankment, Darlington, was also banned from working with children, and was put on the sex offenders' register for the rest of his life.

Restrictions were also put on his future computer use after he admitted making and possessing indecent images and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Dan Cordey, mitigating, said James had lost his job and his home since the police raid which followed a tip-off from online child safety experts.

Since his arrest, he has sought help from organisations which deal with treatment for child abusers and is keen to understand why he has such a fascination.

Mr Cordey said his client had gone from an outgoing person to being isolated and living alone in Darlington in "a high pressure management role".

He added: "He is appalled by his actions. Of course he realises that they are real victims in those pictures, and that haunts him and worries him.

"He will have to start again following his release from custody, and he knows there will be a stigma for a very long time if not for the rest of his life."