April 2021

Dangerous paedophile groomed boy on Snapchat before abuse

A dangerous paedophile used Snapchat to groom a young schoolboy before abusing him.

John Smith, previously a junior football coach, was also jailed in 2019 for using Snapchat to send pictures of his penis to boys.

But the sick 24-year-old was back in Liverpool Crown Court after using the app again to target a young male child before grooming and abusing him.

After discovering what had happened to her son, the child’s mother said: “I feel like I don’t know my own son at all anymore.”

A Liverpool judge branded Smith’s “unwanted and predatory instincts” as “dangerous” to young boys.

Peter Killen, prosecuting, explained that Smith first began speaking with the boy on a different app before he suggested they move onto Snapchat.

Mr Killen said that once on Snapchat they exchanged numbers and would FaceTime each other.

In the messages Smith said he thought the child was “17 or 18” but when the boy told him he was a young teen he went on to groom him.

Mr Killen said: “The conversations began normally, they exchanged information about one another.”

Smith then began to ask the boy to “meet up for a kiss” and they later did meet near to Smith’s workplace along with the boy’s sister, and when she walked ahead of them Smith said: “Your sister has walked off now should we kiss?”

Mr Killen said the boy didn’t reply as he was “embarrassed” but added that they did kiss.

He explained that once they left Smith “snapped him ‘thanks for the kiss'”.

The pair met up again on another occasion when they kissed again and as he touched the boy’s genital area Smith said “kiss me if you want me to stop”.

It was only when the victim’s sister called him that the sexual abuse was brought to a halt, with the boy telling Smith he had to go home.

Smith had also asked the boy to send pictures of his genitals and sent the boy a video of him performing a sex act on himself.

Mr Killen explained the boy discovered Smith was also contacting his friend, while believing they were in a relationship.

When the boy’s family then found out about the abuse the child told Smith they knew – and the paedophile then blocked him on social media.

In a victim personal statement the boy’s mother said her son “hadn’t been sleeping properly” and said he was in “overall bad health” and “very much not himself”.

The mum said: “I feel like I don’t know my own son at all any more. This is very upsetting.”

She also said she didn’t want to stay in the area and feels “her son isn’t safe”.

Smith was convicted after a trial in March 2019 for sexual communication with three boys, for which he was jailed for 18 months and ordered to adhere to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which he breached by committing the new offences.

Smith, formerly of School Way, Speke, admitted four counts of sexual activity with a child, meeting a child following sexual grooming, sexual communication with a child and breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said: “You subjected another victim, another young boy, to your unwanted and predatory instincts.”

Referring to the victim’s interview the judge said: “He has nothing to blame himself for and neither does his mother.”

The judge said: “You had [the victim] exactly where you wanted him and all of this for your own sexual gratification with a young boy.”

The judge said Smith posed a “significant risk of causing serious harm” adding “it’s clear you possess little or no insight into the damage your activity has caused”.

Recorder Unsworth said Smith was a “dangerous” offender and jailed him for four years and six months, with an extended three years on licence.

This type of sentence means he will spend at least two thirds of the custodial term behind bars.

Smith will then only be released before the end of his four-year sentence if a parole board considers he is no longer a risk.