June 2018

Man from Broughton jailed for encouraging ‘girls’ online to engage in sex acts

A man who spoke in a highly sexualised manner online to young girls of 12 and 13 – who turned out to be adults – has been jailed.

Steven Benjamin Jones admitted attempting to cause three ‘girls’ to engage in sexual activity or watch sexual material, on the internet.

Jones, 34, of Chester Road, Broughton, even sent a picture of his manhood to someone he believed was a little girl.

Mold Crown Court was told he was unaware he was talking to members of an online paedophile hunting group.

He was repeatedly told that the ‘girls’ he was talking to were only 12 or 13 but he persisted, saying age was “only a number”.

Judge Nicolas Parry said it was another example of the dreadful dangers of social media and the difficulties facing parents and others when people like him targeted children online.

Jones admitted six charges and was jailed for 14 months. He was made subject of a 10-year order under which he must register with the police as a sex offender.

A 10-year sexual harm prevention order was made under which he is not to have any contact with any girls under the age of 16, apart from what is unavoidable in day to day life.

It also means that he must not delete the history of his internet use and must produce it on request to the police.

Judge Parry told him that last October he made determined attempts to cause very young girls to engage in sexual acts or to watch sexual acts.

“Knowing full well that in your mind they were only 12 or 13, and reminded of that regularly, you continued and persisted. Your response was to say that age was only a number,” the judge said.

One of the ‘girls’ told him that she was scared by his requests but he asked her to send indecent images of herself.

Judge Parry said the case was another example of the dreadful dangers of social media and the difficulties parents and those responsible for young children found themselves in when it was so easy for children in the privacy of their rooms to be targeted by people such as Jones.

They took advantage and tried to groom young girls.

Judge Parry said: “The courts will do what they can to protect young children.”

He warned that had they been real children then the sentence would have been longer, with a five year starting point where a girl of 12 was involved. “But there were no children,” he said.

He said Jones was remorseful and had no similar previous convictions.

Barrister Frances Willmott, prosecuting, said those who set up false profiles of young girls repeatedly reminded the defendant of their ages.

But he persisted, telling one girl that she was cute and asking if she had a naughty side? He told her she was “hot” and described her as “his princess”.

He said he was naughty and asked of a picture of her as a screen saver.

Jones asked who he thought was a girl of 13 to indulge in sex acts and encouraged her to meet him.

He claimed he was aged 20 from Chester and over a three-and-a-half hour period asked a third person he believed was a girl of 13 for naked photographs and said he would be the only one who saw them.

Jones said he would send a picture of his private parts if she did the same to him – and he actually sent a photo.

He suggested they find a quiet place in his car where they could indulge in sex acts.

Jones was confronted by the group on October 17, police arrested him, and he initially denied being involved but he pleaded guilty at an earlier plea hearing in the crown court.

Barrister Matthew Corbett-Jones, defending, suggested a suspended sentence so Jones could have the help he clearly needed.

It was predatory, abhorrent behaviour which would generate disgust, he said, but Jones had admitted what he had done and recognised the need for help.

He had never offended in that way before and was assessed as being socially isolated.

It was important to tackle the reason behind the offending and to prevent an escalation, he said.

It was unlikely that work could be done with him in a meaningful way during a custodial sentence.

The probation service believed it could work with him and reduce the risks in the community.

Mr Corbett-Jones said the reality was there were no children involved and he suggested that under a suspended sentence his client could follow a carefully thought out programme with the Horizon organisation followed by rehabilitation sessions with the probation service, and possibly unpaid work.

He would be put in touch with support groups which had considerable success in reducing reoffending.