March 2019: Now released

November 2015

Man used social media and text messaging to entice Liverpool schoolgirls into sex and child prostitution

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A man who used social media and text messaging to entice Liverpool schoolgirls into sex and child prostitution was jailed for eight years.

Warren Bernard, 25, of Shaw Street, Islington, abused five victims aged between 13 and 16, from September 2013 to March this year.

Judge Andrew Menary, QC, told Liverpool Crown Court : “The facts of this case should be an object lesson to parents who believe they understand their children and know what their children are doing online, on social media and the internet and when they are not at home.

“The parents of these young girls had no idea at all what was going on or the nature and extent of the grooming activity they were exposed to and were participating in and the extreme nature of some of the sexual activity in which some these girls were involved.

“The sad and alarming fact is that none of the offences would have been possible without the use of social media and the internet. You were able to exploit that technology.”

Nicola Daley, prosecuting, said Bernard used Blackberry messaging, Facebook , WhatsApp and Snapchat to identify his victims while lying about his age.

He befriended one girl, aged 14, in September 2013 via Facebook, exchanging explicit pictures with her for almost a year.

On one occasion he replied to her on Snapchat by saying: “Mmmm do any of ur mates have little sisters or do u no any young girls?”

He befriended them and encouraged them to exchange sexually explicit images with him.

Bernard spent months grooming his main victim and when she was still 15 she went to his flat with a friend and after plying her with drink he had sex with her.

During Christmas 2014 he went on to further exploit and abuse the teenager by arranging for her to prostitute herself for him at his flat.

He then arranged for her to prostitute herself for him at his flat, taking her activity “to new levels of corruption and abuse” as he helped her set up an online prostitution profile and send messages to customers.

Bernard admitted two counts of controlling a child prostitute, two counts of inciting sexual activity with a child, one count of sexual activity with a child, one count of meeting after grooming and one count of attempting to meet after grooming.

Bernard also pleaded guilty to 15 counts of taking indecent photographs of a child, four counts of distributing indecent photographs of a child and one count of possessing extreme pornography depicting sex with animals.

Judge Menary said Bernard initially claimed his victims’ age was not part of his attraction to them but that was “plainly nonsense”.

He said: “Various texts indicate you were operating in a predatory manner, deliberately seeking out girls who were underage.

“You typically sent them pictures of your penis. That appears to have been your calling card. And you solicited from them explicit photographs.

“Your aim and objective was to encourage the girls to meet you for the purpose of sexual activity.”

Judge Menary said the girls may have been willing to send pictures but because of their age, lack of maturity and awareness, deserved to be protected from a predator like him.

He said their “attitudes and views of what amounted to normal sexual requests were completely corrupted”.

He ordered Bernard to sign on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely and gave him a Sexual Harm Prevention Order lasting ten years.