A PAEDOPHILE who groomed his victims through Facebook, Skype and X Box has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Luke Collie from Bournemouth offered gifts to children in return for performing sexual acts and became abusive and used threats when his advances were rejected.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard Dorset Police launched an investigation through POLIT, the Police Online Investigation Team, after being alerted to the 24-year-old’s activities.
Now officers have urged parents to keep a close eye on what their children are doing online.
A police spokesman said: “During 2013 and 2014, Collie had been in touch with children via Facebook, Skype, X Box and other social media networks for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with them.”
Sentencing, Judge Peter Johnson said he believes Collie poses a significant risk of further sexual offending and causing harm to children. On release from prison he will spend a further eight years on a dangerous person’s licence under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. A breach of the conditions of this licence can result in an immediate return to prison.
Collie was also given a Sex Offenders Prevention Order and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Director of Public Protection, Acting Detective Superintendent Chris Naughton said: “We are using technology to combat offenders who use the internet as weapon to attack and abuse children.
“The internet is a wonderful resource, but I urge parents to make themselves aware of what their children are doing online. There are a minority of people who want to groom and sexually exploit children. Please don’t let them have the opportunity.
He said there are many ways to keep children safe online including the Safe Schools Community Team (SSCT) which runs courses in educational establishments, and educates young people in internet safety. The courses include messages about keeping personal information safe and encouraging young people to consider safe social networking and responsible online behaviour.
“The SSCT also hold classes for parents, delivering internet safety sessions. Parents can either contact schools or Dorset Police direct on 101 for more information on these. Parents may also wish to visit the ceop.police.uk website for information and guidance” added Acting Det Supt Naughton.
“I also urge those abusing children to seek professional help from either their GP or another professional organisation such as Stop it Now! or the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.”
Detective Inspector Pete Little told the Daily Echo that most parents have parental controls on home computers but there are few controls on children’s phones and other devices.
“Collie was pretending to be someone else to engage children in conversation and would then begin to groom them” he said.
“In these cases the conversation starts with something quite harmless and offenders manage to gain the trust of their victims before arranging to meet them.”
The Paedophile Online Investigation Team can be contacted on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.