June 2013

Dad-of-two flashed at girls via webcam

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A FATHER-OF-TWO who exposed himself to young girls over the internet using a webcam has avoided jail.

Steven O’Neil, of Evans Road, Eynsham, admitted two counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of girls under 16.

The 46-year-old sent messages to his victims on Facebook, pretending to be a 15-year-old boy and asking them to switch on their webcams.

In this way he tricked a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old into seeing live footage of him naked and masturbating on two occasions in August 2010.

He was caught by Thames Valley Police after he exposed himself to another girl using his webcam and she told her mother, who contacted the police.

Cathy Olliver, prosecuting, said on that occasion O’Neil denied he had done it on purpose and the case was dropped.

But officers discovered the contact details of his two other victims on his computer, and made contact with them after a long investigation.

Miss Olliver added that the girls had been shocked and upset by what they had seen and both immediately switched off their computer cameras.

Claire Fraser, defending, said O’Neil was so disgusted with what he had done he had tried to commit suicide on four occasions.

She said: “He is totally ashamed and disgusted with his behaviour during that period of time.

“He puts it down to the breakdown of his marriage – that seems to have triggered him using the internet in the way in which he did.

“He has now had this matter hanging over him for nearly three years and he has committed no further offences in that time.

“He feels so guilty and ashamed by what he has done that he has tried to put something back into the community over the last three years.”

O’Neil will now have to sign the sex offenders’ register and has been made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning contact with girls under 16.

Judge Gordon Risius sentenced him to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, with two years of supervision and a year-long sexual offenders treatment programme.

O’Neil was also ordered to pay £600 towards prosecution costs on Thursday at Oxford Crown Court.

Judge Risius said: “These offences must have been extremely upsetting for these two girls, particularly as what had occurred was so unexpected.

“Moreover you accept by your plea that you did not believe either girl was an adult and you were aware that they were under 16.”