A MAN who groomed an underage teenage girl and engaged in sexual activity with her has been jailed for four years and four months.

Matthew Joseph Keets, aged 23, and of Bennett Road, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of sexual communication with a child, one count of possession of indecent moving image and four counts of possession of an indecent image.

He was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on Thursday, October 29, 2020.

Keets met his victim via a messaging app in August 2019 and during their communications in the first two to three months she told him that she was 14 years old. Keets, who was 22 at the time, claimed to be 17 years old.

In October 2019 they engaged in consensual sexual activity at the defendant’s home.

The victim was reported missing in November 2019 and was found by family members at Keets’ address.

He was arrested and admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the victim but claimed he did not know she was underage.

He was released on bail with conditions not to contact the victim but, following reports Keets was breaching those conditions, officers attended his address in February 2020 and found him in company with the victim.

Keets was arrested again and an examination of his mobile phone revealed a number of messages illustrating the defendant’s grooming behaviour toward the victim as well as indecent images of her.

Detective Constable Caroline Gould, of Dorset Police’s Child Exploitation Team, said: “Through the evidence we obtained we were able to show how Matthew Keets acted in a manipulative way and pursued contact with his vulnerable young victim, even though he knew she was underage.

“He continued in this manner even after he had been arrested in October 2019 and released on bail with conditions not to contact her.

“We are committed to supporting vulnerable young people who are at risk of grooming at the hands of offenders such as Keets and will do all we can to bring those who commit these despicable crimes to justice.”

Anyone with concerns relating to child exploitation or grooming can contact:

  • Dorset Police: call 101. Always dial 999 if an emergency. 
  • Local Authority Children’s Social Care: BCP Council on 01202 735046, Dorset Council on 01305 228866
  • NSPCC: 0808 800 5000, help@nspcc.org.uk