November 2015

Pervert used Snapchat and Facebook to ‘groom’ youngsters

CLARK

A 20-year-old man has been locked up after using social media ‘groom’ children aged under 13-years-old

Scott Clark was said to be struggling with his sexuality when he used Facebook and Snapchat to get six boys and one girl to indulge in sexual activity, and persuaded them to exchange indecent images.

Clark, of Wakeley Road, Rainham, admitted:

  • Six offences of causing a child to watch a sexual act

  • Four of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity

  • Three of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity

Sentencing him to three years youth custody, a judge told him: “This case shows the dark side of how social media can be used for unlawful sexual purposes.

 “It is almost as if you are in a sanitised area when using social media – almost as though no one is going to come and get you and stop you.”

 He denied attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming in February last year and the charge will be left on the court file.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Clark’s youngest victim was aged 11. He contacted the boy on social media and “instructed” him to perform a sex act and send him pictures of his private parts.

Clark, who lied about his age, also sent him indecent images of himself.

Prosecutor Edward Franklin said there was similar behaviour with other teenage boys aged 13, 14 and 15.

He suggested to one victim that they should meet up and have sex, but they did not do so.

Clark contacted A 14-year-old girl and questioned her about sexual matters. She later told police his questions were ‘weird’.

They exchanged phone numbers and had conversations on Snapchat. He sent her a picture of his private parts and he persuaded her to send one of hers.

Clark, an apprentice with a horse racing school, was arrested after the parents of one boy saw some images and contacted the police.

Judge Philip Statman told Clark: “You were persistent in your activity. You knew the ages of those you were talking to.

“The acts were performed for your sexual gratification with little regard to the impact your activities will have on your victims, who were either embarking on, or within, their teenage years with all the difficulties young teenagers have to deal with in coming to terms with their sexuality.”

The judge said he could see from victims’ statements the effect of what Clark had done to them.

“The law is in place to protect young people from those who use social media networking sites for their sexual gratification,” he said.

“It must be made abundantly clear that those who commit this type of offence are going to be sent by this court to custody.”

Clark had contacted the Lucy Faithfull Foundation child protection charity for help.

“They have gone as far as they can with helping you,” said Judge Statman. “You have a very long way to go.

“I am prepared to accept that at the time you were struggling with your own sexuality. I bear in mind these are non-physical contact offences.”

He added that all of the victims had behaved extremely bravely, having faced up to their mums and dads.

“They should all feel they have done the right thing,” he said. “They should be told the sentence of the court in simple terms.”

A sexual harm prevention order was made for seven years and Clark’s name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

He will be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.