|Man jailed for grooming and trying to meet teenage girl
Guilty - Thomas Jones
A 59-year-old Wigan man has been jailed for using the internet for grooming and arranging to meet a 14-year-old girl.
Thomas Jones (27/08/1952) of Clap Gate Lane, Wigan, was sentenced to 12 months at Liverpool Crown Court today, Friday 23 September 2011.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to sexual grooming of a child, arranging to meet a child following sexual grooming, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, making / possessing an indecent photograph of a child - level three and making / possessing an indecent photograph of a child - level one.
He has been ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years.
In September 2010, Jones logged onto an internet chat site and made contact with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl.
He was caught out by a covert operation carried out by trained Greater Manchester Police officers, who set up fake profiles of children on social networking sites.
Jones used a website called 'Just Chat' to find the girl and then used the MSN chat facility to contact the girl in private.
Between September 2010 and October 2010, the facility was used 25 times, his conversation was centred around arranging to meet the girl; he constantly made sexual references towards her. During one MSN conversation Jones exposed himself to the girl on a webcam.
Having failed to turn up at his first arranged meeting, he arranged another meeting at McDonald's in Eccles,Salford. Jones travelled to meet the girl but could not find the restaurant.
On Friday 29 October 2010 officers from Greater Manchester Police's Sexual Crime Unit arrested Jones on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming. The police found a written note on a scrap of paper in Jones' works' van. The note was the postcode for McDonalds in Eccles.
Detective Constable Steven Walker said: "Jones' intentions were clear, from the nature of his internet chat conversations, his subsequent actions on the webcam and his travelling to Eccles from the Wigan area.
"We hope this sentence will act as a deterrent for anyone that uses the internet with the intention of preying on children
"Potential groomers are warned that they could be chatting to a police officer and I would urge parents and children to take steps to ensure their safety on the internet, particularly with the use of MSN and other chat networks.
"A number of instant messaging and social networking sites now have access to an emergency internet safety button which takes users to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), where suspicious behaviour can be reported.
"Anyone seeking online safety advice should visit www.ceop.police.uk where they can also report any suspicious activity to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)."
Key tips on internet safety:
- Children should understand that they should not give out their personal details such as email addresses and mobile phone numbers to anyone on-line, and be aware of the dangers in arranging to meet strangers through the Internet
- There are many websites for parents and children which specifically look at safety issues in using the Internet, and in particular chat rooms. A leaflet offering internet safety tips for parents and teachers which is available from all local police stations or from www.thinkuknow.co.uk.
- Parents should try to monitor the time their child spends on the internet and also set up a filtering process which helps to block any unwanted information coming through.