A PREDATOR who groomed a 15-year-old online before having sex with her has been jailed for four years.
David Havis, 38, was well respected in the Territorial Army and the banking firm for which he worked, but in September last year he began online chats with a teenage girl via the messaging site Omegle, and later via WhatsApp.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard that Havis, a father-of-three from Essex, made no attempt to hide his age from the teenager, and was also well aware of her age as the pair discussed the disparity.
Prosecutor David Richards said: “They communicated daily and extensively.
“In one message she said ‘I have cancelled my counselling course, been getting worse again’ with a sad face. He replied ‘Oh hon, that’s not good’. He was aware she was a young girl with some vulnerability.”
He said that through the “grooming” the pair reached a “mutual” desire to meet for sex.
The court heard Havis met his victim at the Dolphin Swimming Centre in Poole on September 28 and the pair engaged in sexual activity in a changing cubicle.
In a message to him later that day she said: “I kept thinking I should feel freaked out by the age thing but I’m not.”
On October 26, Havis booked a room at the Queen’s Hotel in Bournemouth and the pair met up again, having sex twice.
The following month she told school friends and the matter was relayed through staff to the police and social services.
Mr Richards read statements from the victim, who was worried the incident might affect her exam performance, and her father, who said it had damaged their relationship and he had been physically sick at the thought of what Havis had done.
In mitigation, Tom Horder said his client had not sought out an under-age girl and had met his victim via a chat site aimed at adult users.
He said Havis “had a successful life” which had unravelled during 2013 as he went through bereavement and a separation.
Jailing Havis, Judge John Harrow said: “By this aberration you have shattered everyone’s confidence in you and to a large extent destroyed your life.”
Havis, of Westbourne Gardens, Billericay, admitted three offences of sexual activity with a child and one count of grooming. A Sexual Offences Prevention Order was imposed until further notice.
PANEL DORSET Safe Schools and Communities Team offer internet safety education and training packages to professionals who work with young people, raising awareness of the dangers of online grooming, cyber-crime, sexting and child sexual exploitation.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Naughton, of the Dorset PolicePublic Protection Unit, said: “Offenders need to know that the internet is not a safe, anonymous space for grooming children. They leave a digital footprint and we will find it.
“Abusing children is an abhorrent crime, hidden in society for far too long. We are committed to rooting it out and stopping it.
“Everyone, teachers, GPs, parents and other adults have a responsibility to spot the signs of abuse and act.”
The Paedophile Online Investigation Team and SSCT can be contacted on 101. In an emergency. dial 999. Information relating to child abuse can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.