A Sandy man has been sentenced to two years in prison for trying to persuade someone who he believed to be 12 years old to engage in sexual activity with him.
Craig Hall, 44, of High Road, Sandy was jailed at Luton Crown Court yesterday (Thursday) after being found guilty of three counts of attempting to incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in a sexual act. He has also been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and has received a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Hall struck up with a conversation with someone online, who he believed to be 12 years old, and sent her sexually explicit messages as well as tried to persuade her to carry out a sexual act on him in exchange for money.
In fact he was talking to a 17-year-old woman online, who had lied about her age in order to deter Hall from speaking to her.
The woman then reported Hall to Bedfordshire Police and an investigation was subsequently launched.
Investigation Officer Nicky Owen, from the Internet Child Abuse Investigation Team (ICAIT), said: “Although Hall was talking to a 17-year-old, he believed that she was only 12 years old, and thinking she was of such a young age spurred him on even more in his attempts to engage in sexual activity.
“Behaviour such as this is completely unacceptable and it’s only right and proper that we thoroughly investigate sexual predators such as Hall, in order to ensure that they are made to pay the price for their actions.”
Earlier this week the force launched Operation Netsafe, a regional campaign to tackle the viewing, making, and sharing indecent images of children.
The force is working with others in the Eastern region, alongside the charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, to promote this important issue.
ICAIT Detective Sergeant Graeme Twyford said: “The viewing and sharing of indecent images is a crime – causing severe trauma to countless children as a result of the thousands of people wanting to see such images. There’s also a very fine line between the viewing of these images, and the decision to contact a child and attempt to engage them in sexual activity.
“Resources are available for those who are worried about either their own, or a loved one’s behaviour or thoughts, and I think it’s really important that we let people know that help is available in a bid to help prevent the risk of the offending.”
Find out more on the Bedfordshire Police website or visit the Lucy Faithfull Foundation for advice and support.
Follow the #OperationNetsafe hashtag on Twitter for more information about the campaign.