IT usually started with a Facebook friend request.
Or a match on Tinder.
And then Andrew James Benn, 28, of Rothbury, would organise to meet up with his new “friend” for a date or to go for a drive.
But what started out as a friendship or consensual sexual activity soon became far more sinister as Benn forced himself on his victims, held them down and ignored their pleas for him to stop.
Between 2012 and 2017, Benn raped or indecently assaulted 14 victims, mostly teenage girls or young women, who he met using social media. Benn, represented by solicitor John Anthony, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from Parklea Correctional Centre where he pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges, including 21 counts of sexual intercourse without consent.
He faces the prospect of decades behind bars when he is sentenced later this year in Newcastle District Court.
In 2012, when Benn was 23, he twice had sex with a girl when she was 15 and then 16.
After the second time the girl left her iPod in his car and Benn used it to try and blackmail her into committing more sexual acts on him.
“Sex three times a week for a month and let me do whatever I want to u,” Benn wrote to the girl when she asked what she had to do for him to return her iPod.
Later, when the girl said she didn’t want her iPod back, Benn said he would upload embarrassing and sensitive photographs of the girl online.
“You do realise that’s child [pornography],” the girl wrote. “And you will get in a lot of trouble. “You know I can charge you with rape?”
Benn replied: “Cool”.
In 2013, a 17-year-old girl received a Facebook friend request from Benn and, after a few weeks of chatting, the pair decided to meet up.
Benn was supposed to drive the girl into Newcastle, but instead went to a boat ramp at Morpeth where he raped her in the backseat.
When a few other cars arrived, he drove to the Morpeth cemetery where he again sexually assaulted the girl.
After sexually assaulting another girl in 2016, Benn warned her off calling the police.
“What happened tonight never leaves this room,” Benn told the girl.
“If the police come knocking on my door, my friends will come knocking on yours. “My friends are in the Hells Angels and they can make you disappear.”
Benn was arrested and charged in January, 2017, after two teenage girls and three women contacted police to say he had sexually assaulted them.
Publicity of his arrest and the charges prompted more women to come forward and Benn was ultimately charged with 60 offences.