April 2019

Man groomed child he met online by buying her teddy bear then took her to hotel for sex

A man groomed a child he met online by buying her a teddy bear, jewellery, and chocolates before taking her to a hotel for sex.

Alan Knight befriended the girl on Snapchat and started taking her on Sunday afternoon drives before checking them into a Travelodge while she told her parents she was with a friend.

Speaking at Cardiff Crown Court , prosecutor Heath Edwards said: “She feels sick when she thinks about what happened.”

The court heard the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 15 when they met on social media.

Prosecutors said she became “infatuated” with the defendant and she described how he made her feel like she was “the only girl in the world”.

Knight was 46 at the time but pretended to be 30 and told the girl his name was Alan Smith.

Mr Edwards said: “He was, the prosecution say, trying to foster a relationship with her. He built her confidence.”

The court heard they talked on FaceTime when she thought her parents would not find out and he bought her gifts including a teddy bear, a ring, a bracelet, and chocolates.

Prosecutors said the girl had low self-esteem and did not have many friends at the time. She described feeling like the defendant would listen to her.

Knight suggested around Christmas 2017 that they should meet up and they met for the first time in the New Year.

Over the next two months he regularly drove to Rhondda Cynon Taf on Sunday afternoons to see her and take her out in his car.

Mr Edwards said: “He knew she was 15 when he conducted the trips from Gloucester.”

The court heard during one of those drives the defendant parked up in an isolated area and sexually abused her. She agreed to the sexual activity but was below the age of consent.

The victim alleged Knight would ask her to call him daddy and described him having “a massive daddy kink” – which he denied.

Prosecutors said he took her to a Travelodge at Cribbs Causway in Bristol on February 2 last year after she told her family she was going to visit a friend.

The court heard he bought her alcohol and Mr Edwards said: “They engaged in sexual activity.”

He took her back to the Travelodge around Valentine’s Day and there was further sexual activity involving a sex toy.

Mr Edwards said: “Her school friends became concerned about the relationship and age disparity.”

Her friends told a teacher who reported the matter to the police. There was an investigation and the defendant was arrested.

Prosecutors argued aggravating features included the significant age difference, degree of planning, and grooming behaviour.

In a victim impact statement the girl – who is now 17 – said she thought she was in love with Knight.

The court heard she found it difficult to concentrate in school and is now trying to catch up with her A-levels.

She said she struggled to leave the house after feeling anxious about what happened and experienced flashbacks.

Prosecutors said Knight had a caution for battery in 2008 but no relevant previous convictions.

The 47-year-old from Stroud Road in Gloucester admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Michael Fitton QC jailed him for four years and made a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order. The defendant must register as a sex offender.