March 2018

Walsall pervert jailed for attempting to groom 13-year-old online

A man has been jailed for attempting to groom a 13-year-old girl over the internet.

What 41-year-old Lee Bowen did not know was that the teenager did not exist and he had been lured into a trap by a member of an action group called Keeping Kids Safe, a court heard.

The factory worker, from Walsall, communicated with the decoy for a month before suggesting they meet, said Mr Paul Spratt, prosecuting.

An internet profile had been created by the group under the name of Penny, who was allegedly from Nottinghamshire, and initially given an age of 14, despite users having to be 18 or over to use the site, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Bowen remarked on her age and the decoy replied she was really 13, not 14, the court heard. He apologised for contacting her, telling her he was 38, but added he saw ‘no harm in chatting’.

Following the first communication on January 3, they messaged each other over the next four or five weeks and while most of the content was mundane, there was also sexual innuendo, some of it overtly sexual, including Bowen sending ‘her’ a picture of his private parts.

During messages he several times referred to the age gap between them and initially said he would not meet her until she was 17 – but then they talked about meeting up at KFC for food.

“The defendant then took things to a higher level, talking about kissing her, playing with her and having sex in the back of his car,” said Mr Spratt.

Bowen arranged to meet ‘Penny’ at the Merry Hill pub on February 11 but was instead met by police officers who arrested him.

Mr Spratt said: “The defendant was plainly aware of her age and encouraged secrecy, telling her to delete any images of him and talked about deleting their ‘history’ on his own account.

Bowen, of Southbourne Avenue, Walsall, admitted attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 with a view to grooming her.

He was jailed for 12 months and made subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years