July 2008

Jail for man who groomed boys on Internet

A FATHER of two who was branded as a serious danger to teenagers has been jailed for more than seven years.

Peter Williams, 38, targeted boys over the Internet, befriending them to gain their trust and meeting them for sex.

Prosecutor Adam Feest told Southampton Crown Court that there was no suggestion Williams had forced the boys to commit sex acts but they were unsure of their sexuality and were persuaded to do more than they would have otherwise have done.

Williams abused two victims in his bedroom, the court heard. He had also travelled to London to see a 15-year-old boy he had groomed through an Internet chatroom but the youngster refused to answer his texts and the meeting never took place.

In impact statements, one boy said he felt “dirty” while the other said he felt “uncomfortable”.

The London teenager said he became “wary” of Williams because of his suggestions.

Southampton Crown Court heard the human resources officer had been jailed for 18 months in December 2005 for offences against a 13-year-old, and it was through that investigation these offences came to light.

When officers went to Williams’ home, they seized a computer and discovered he had downloaded more than 450 indecent images of boys.

Williams, of Harcourt Road, Southampton, admitted eight offences of sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, travelling with the intention of meeting a child following sexual grooming, and possessing indecent pictures.

Jailing him for seven years and four months, Judge Jeremy Burford QC referred to the pre-sentence report that assessed him as highly skilled in grooming victims. The probation officer concluded he had minimised the seriousness of his offending, and considered he posed a significant risk of causing serious harm to children, particularly teenage boys.

In mitigation, David Reid said the offences pre-dated the prison sentence and he had not been in trouble for more than three years.

“They were committed at a time his life had turned upside down. His marriage had fallen apart, he had been denied access to his children, and as a means of escape threw himself into the gay world. He accepts he did nothing to check his behaviour.”

Following his release from prison, he had made good progress on sex offender treatment programmes. “He has worked hard to rebuild his life.

He has paid off considerable debts and has terminated what was a good job because of the hearing.”

In addition to the jail sentence, Williams was placed on the sex offenders register and under the terms of a sex offender prevention order, cannot speak to or communicate with children under 16 except his two children with their mother’s consent. He was also banned from using the Internet to contact children under 16 indefinitely.