Wrexham man groomed schoolgirl on internet site

Published date: 21 March 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A 49-year-old man groomed a schoolgirl via Facebook.

Gary Jones said he wanted a naked hug and suggested they go to bed together.

At Mold Crown Court yesterday Jones admitted seeking to arrange or facilitate a child sex offence – but was spared immediate prison.

Jones, of Menai Road in Wrexham, received an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was placed on supervision and sent on an internet sex offender’s group programme which the judge said was onerous with 39 sessions.

Judge David Hale placed him on the sex register for seven years and also made a seven year SOPO (Sexual Offences Prevention Order). That bans him from approaching his victim in any way – and he is also banned from seeking to contact any girl under 16 on the internet.

Judge Hale said he had never been in any trouble before but he began to engage in banter with a girl who he knew was at a vulnerable stage in her life.

“You took the opportunity to engage in this wholly inappropriate contact through Facebook,” he said.

Judge Hale told him that if he had got into a position where he could indulge in sexual contact with her then he may have got carried away and ended up in a far more serious position.

“You wanted to hug her naked. You wanted to be in bed together. There was no discussion about having sex but that may have happened,” he said.

The judge said there were clearly great dangers in the use of social media, particularly when wholly inappropriate conversations took place between children and adults.

But Jones had not pretended that he was a child – which would have made the position far worse and which would have led to immediate imprisonment.

Prosecuting barrister Elen Owen told how the girl’s mother challenged her and she cried as she told her that the defendant had asked for naked photographs of her and had asked to meet her. She told of an occasion when he had followed her off the school bus.

Police were informed and in an interview she told how they had become Facebook friends.

He had asked to meet her which made her uncomfortable and she had refused.

She said he had asked to do things to her, but when pressed about it she began to cry and said it was horrible.

When she ignored his messages he became angry with her.

Arrested and interviewed, Jones denied any wrong doing and said she had a crush on him. But he admitted he had mentioned a naked hug, going to bed, and had arranged to meet her.

Mark Davies, defending, said Jones was living with his grandfather who was in his 90s and he was his carer.

The offence was completely out of character and had occurred when he was at a low ebb – he had lost his job of 10 years and his three year relationship had come to an end. The solicitor said it was another example of where social media was being used inappropriately.

It was a sad reflection, he said, that such offences often occurred when people were at a low point, lonely and isolated who became embroiled in inappropriate conduct on social media sites.

He did not seek to minimise his actions, he was remorseful, he had taken steps to rehabilitate himself and had stopped taking alcohol and his anti-depressants.

The proceedings themselves had a significant impact upon him.

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