March 2015

Parents trace 14-year-old daughter to home of 26-year-old man who groomed her with cash and gifts

Craig

A mum tracked down her 14-year-old daughter to the home of a pervert who had groomed her with cash and presents by tracing a Facebook message.

She and her husband checked the teen’s profile and found a message she had sent to a friend which revealed where she was, then went door-to-door on his street until they found her.

She was marched out of his bedroom by her dad.

Former chimney sweep Craig O’Neill, 26, of Hyde, has been jailed for four years after he pleaded guilty to a series of charges including child abduction.

Unbeknown to the ‘vulnerable and naive’ girl, he had also built up a vile ‘library’ of indecent images of children on his home computer.

There was no evidence to suggest sexual contact, but judge John Potter said O’Neill was ‘very close to getting what he desired…sexual gratification’.

He said: “I have no doubt that what you were doing that night were acts that were designed by you to encourage her.”

Today, as O’Neill begins his sentence, the girl’s mother spoke of her terror and issued a chilling warning to parents over the dangers of Facebook.

Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard they struck up a relationship on Facebook but O’Neill knew her true age when they met twice in June 2013.

He gave her £400 cash on the first occasion then bought her clothing, pyjamas and £100 Ugg boots in Manchester .

The girl had told her mum that she was meeting a friend at McDonald’s, the court heard, but they went to his house that night where they drank vodka and he smoked cannabis.

Andy Smith, prosecuting, said her mum became anxious after she said she wanted to stay out then turned her phone off.

Her mum alerted her friends and a message she had sent to one of them on Facebook revealed her location to be on O’Neill’s street.

Officers attended with her mum, but they didn’t know which exact house he was in

The girl’s mum and dad however returned at 6.15am the next morning following more research on their daughter’s Facebook page and knocked on doors until a neighbour pointed them in the right direction.

Mr Smith said O’Neill answered the door in shorts and a T-shirt and they recognised him from her Facebook account.

He said: “O’Neill said he had not touched her. Her dad ran upstairs and pushed the bedroom door open. She was there.

“She was wearing the pyjamas he had bought her.”

The police were alerted and O’Neill was arrested. The court heard that in interviews, he accepted that he knew she was 14,

Analysis of his computer revealed a collection of indecent images of children and extreme pornography had been downloaded.

Lewis Bretts, defending O’Neill, said: “He has shown his remorse. He understands how serious these offences are.”

O’Neill was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and subjected to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to monitor his activity on release.