A former nurse has been jailed for six years after posing as a gay teenage girl to abuse 49 girls over the internet.

Barry McCluskey, 39, admitted that, over the course of three years, he tricked young girls into performing sex acts over a webcam, pretending to be a lesbian or bisexual.

The BBC reports that he would pose as a girl called Clare or Missy and use a fake profile picture on Bebo or messaging services.

Alison Di Rollo, prosecuting, said: “Those who were, or became reluctant, he would ask to do more – telling them if they did not, he may have to forward the video they had already done to friends.”

After police were alerted by one girl’s mother, McCluskey was found on the city’s Erskine Bridge, saying he had “done something bad”.

Presiding judge Rita Rae QC said: “Very cleverly, you manipulated and tricked your way into the homes, bedrooms and minds of the children that you specifically targeted.”

“The risk is that vulnerable young children may end up in a position where they are forced to carry out acts which bring them pain and which has the effect of heaping upon them feelings of guilt, shame, degradation and humiliation.”

10,000 indecent images of children were found on McCluskey’s computers.

The Government’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre provides resources including the ThinkUKnow website to advise and support young people online, offering information on who young people should speak to if they are concerned.

A spokesman said: “In the same way children should be cautious of unwanted approaches from strangers in the real world they should also be careful if approached in the online world.

“The anonymity of the internet can encourage children and young people to take risks or act in a way they would not in the real world.”