April 2021

Court order for paedophile caught talking to teenage girls on social media

Magistrates have imposed a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) on a convicted paedophile caught posing as a teenage girl on social media.

51-year-old Martin Vines, of Quakers Walk, Goatacre, was sentenced to a community order back in 2016 for possession of incident images of children.

Wiltshire Police lawyer Louise Ravenscroft says the force has serious concerns about his behaviour online since a discovery less than two years ago.

Regular home visits conducted by DC Deborah Cook’s team on the public protection unit have uncovered evidence that Vines is believed to be a risk to the public – mainly children.

Officers seized a laptop on 30 September 2019 which showed that he had created two fake profiles on Facebook and Instagram where he was purporting to be a teenage girl.

The profiles, named ‘Samantha’, had engaged in conversations with real teenage girls – both under and over 16 – and women.

‘He told officers that he wanted to be female and wanted to find out what it was like to be female’, Ms Ravenscroft said. She suggested he could have spoken to adults about this instead.

Home visits in 2020 also uncovered evidence Vines was continuing to use fake social media profiles under the name ‘Samantha’ to communicate with females dispute being given advice not to. It’s said some of those conversations were sexualised, however, no charges have been brought by Wiltshire Police as yet.

The court heard that the people on the receiving end of his messages do believe he is the teenage girl he is pretending to be.

Ms Ravenscroft added that he has been using multiple devices, disregarding advice to use only one and offer inspection if requested by officers. There was also evidence that he had regularly deleted his internet history.

She said Vines is ‘making it difficult to ensure public are protected’.

The defendant will soon no longer be subject to sexual notification requirements of his 2016 order, meaning unless the SHPO was granted, Vines would be completely unsupervised.

The original SHPO included 13 prohibitions, all around the use of the internet and devices. However, magistrates added an additional prohibition preventing the use or downloading of a VPN (virtual private network) – software that hides your identity online.

The SHPO was imposed for five years.