Published: 06:00, 25 September 2021
A “calculating" rapist who stalked social media to blackmail children for vile images of themselves could be facing jail.
Daniel Noelken preyed upon the terrified school-aged children, and secretly filmed other young boys naked in a changing room, between 2017-2019.
Noelken, 22, of Sandwich, was convicted unanimously at Canterbury Crown Court following a trial.
Posing as a child on social media, Noelken tricked his victims into sending him sickening images of themselves.
The predator threatened to send the illicit material to their friends list on Instagram if they refused to hand over more.
Devious Noelken also used Facebook to infiltrate a family to access and rape a boy with learning difficulties, by offering to mow their lawn and babysitting.
Another mum told the court how he pestered her for months on the social networking site, repeatedly asking to baby-sit her vulnerable son.
“The victim’s mum said she met Daniel after advertising on Facebook for someone to mow the lawn..."
But Noelken’s string of chilling private messages prompted her to become suspicious and cut contact.
KentOnline can reveal Noelken’s identity and campaign of abuse in Sandwich, Thanet and Herne Bay, after reporting restrictions designed to protect his safety were lifted.
The extent of his offending surfaced after the boy he babysat disclosed to adults he had been raped and sexually assaulted.
Jurors heard how Noelken used social media to manipulate his victim’s family.
“The victim’s mum said she met Daniel after advertising on Facebook for someone to mow the lawn.
“He exchanged references with the mother saying he was thinking of working in child care,” prosecutor Serena Gates said.
The boy told jurors how Noelken repeatedly attacked him shortly after his parents left the home.
Police raided Noelken’s address the day after the attack and would soon discover the rape allegation was just part of his offending, the court heard.
Items seized and forensically examined included two hard drives, a gaming tower and mobile phone.
Officers identified more young victims among hundreds of child abuse images and videos.
Of those, a video emerged of children being secretly recorded in a changing room, another contained compromising footage of a boy.
Social media transcripts showed Noelken blackmailing and threatening two children, one of whom he tried grooming to meet.
“One victim stated he received an Instagram direct message from a person saying she was 11 and lived in Thanet.
“The account spammed him with photos, the victim sent photos and videos of things the account asked him to do,” Ms Gates explained.
Growing increasingly uncomfortable with the demands, the child blocked the account prompting Noelken to hatch a new plan.
The schemer befriended a young girl on social media then blackmailed her to send illegal photos of herself.
He then found a way to send the images to his male victim and demand more in return, while threatening to publicly release videos which would embarrass the child.
In video evidence played in court, the victim told officers he “just wanted it to stop,” adding: “The account threatened to send photos of me to my friends, then I got loads of random accounts following me.”
Ms Gates told jurors the prosecution’s case hinged on four points; the progression of Noelken’s offending, his careful calculation, the authenticity of his victim’s evidence and the unlikelihood of coincidence.
Noelken’s victims were unknown to each other.
"The defendant’s sexual interest in young boys was getting stronger and harder to control..."
Ms Gates told jurors in her closing speech: “I asked Daniel Noelken whether his sexual interests were becoming stronger as time went on, and when one looks at the progression of offending, one sees that by 2018 the defendant was talking to a real child, and through much of 2018 we have seen the defendant is trying to find real life baby-sitting responsibilities.
“The defendant denies it but you may find the defendant’s sexual interest in young boys was getting stronger and harder to control.
She continued: “The defendant has admitted to getting the girl to take photos so he can send these photos onto another victim - he had a plan.
“And the prosecution say he made that plan in advance. It goes further than that, it is not just one step of the plan.
“When the girl didn’t want to send photos of herself the defendant threatened to send such photos to her friends and followers if she didn’t take more intimate photos of herself - she was threatened there would be consequences.”
But Eloise Marshall QC, defending, argued Noelken had not inappropriately touched or raped a child, and social media dialogue showing him attempting to meet one victim was merely a “fantasy.”
She added Noelken’s attention deficit disorder and autism symptoms were “extremely complex”.
“It doesn’t mean Daniel is completely incapable, it goes deeper than that, in many ways Daniel Noelken is very capable.
“He can drive, he can do first aid, he has worked for a private first aid company and has been proactive in getting on with his life,” she continued.
“He is not someone who is incapable, but the problem is his capabilities mask the things he can’t do or understand.”
“It doesn’t mean Daniel is completely incapable, it goes deeper than that, in many ways Daniel Noelken is very capable..."
Jurors unanimously convicted Noelken of raping a child under 13, two counts of sexual assault and attempting to arrange or facilitate a child sex offence.
He admitted before trial two counts of blackmail, voyeurism and 10 other non-contact sexual offences involving children, including inciting a child under 13 to engage in a sexual act.
Judge Catherine Brown rejected Noelken’s bail application and adjourned sentencing for reports, with sentencing expected later this year.
“I’m sure you understand the jury has found you guilty and that means you will have to be sentenced, but I can’t sentence you today.
“In the meantime I’m going to remand you in custody,” she said.