February 2010

Pervert groomed girl in net chat room

A chicken farmer who groomed young girls on the internet has been jailed.

Gerard Roberts used a social networking site to groom a 14-year-old girl between May and September last year. He would indulge in depraved and crude sexual chats with her, took her to woods for sex and told her he loved her.

Roberts, 50, from Steep Marsh, Petersfield, was also grooming what he thought was a 13-year-old old girl but was in fact an undercover police officer.

He was caught when he arranged to meet the 13-year-old at Twickenham railway station and was arrested.

Police found semi-nude images of the 14-year-old girl who Roberts was also grooming at the same time when they searched his computer and traced her through her mobile phone number.

Usha Shergill, prosecuting, said Roberts ‘connivingly built up an online relationship’ with the 14-year-old girl and then sexually abused her.

Ms Shergill said Roberts thought he was also messaging a 13-year-old girl and ’employed highly manipulative tactics’ to gain her trust.

He was ‘engaging and complimentary’ at first, before progressing to ‘highly sexualised chats’ in which he ‘expressed his wish to engage in sex, she said.

Describing his actions as a case of ‘sustained predatory sexual offending’, at Southwark Crown Court Judge Stephen Robbins jailed Roberts for four years after he admitted:

  • Two counts of sexual activity with a female child

  • Two counts of sexual grooming

  • Attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming

  • Attempted sexual activity, at an earlier hearing.