Wigan man groomed schoolgirl and sent her lewd images

Police probe
Police probe

A Wigan man has been ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register after sending lewd images and messages to a teenaged girl he met on the internet.

Adam Ralphson, 28, met the 14-year-old online in March 2017, bonding with her over a passion for video games, but their interactions became illegal when they began exchanging lewd pictures and texts with each other.

He drew up plans to meet the girl in person and even move in with her, before the plans were foiled by the victim’s mother when she found their messages and reported him to the police.

A Bolton judge ordered Ralphson, of Balcarres Avenue, Aspull, to sign the register for five years and undertake a court-ordered programme, having pleaded guilty to the charges in an earlier hearing at Wigan Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard Ralphson first met the girl when she responded to a post he had made on an internet forum about joining an online game of Dungeons and Dragons.

But what began as the pair playing video games in a group setting soon progressed into one-on-one conversations on a messaging app, around April 2017. Prosecutor Tess Kenyon said Ralphson and the girl then formed a “boyfriend and girlfriend” relationship in September 2017 after months of digital messaging.

They began to exchange sexual images around October, and had made plans to finally meet in person at a comic convention, even discussing moving in together.

Ralphson’s plan was rumbled when the girl’s mother discovered Ralphson and her daughter had sent nude photographs and sexually overt messages to each other, including one from Ralphson in which he fantasised about sexual acts he would perform on her in public.

The girl had been a “willing participant” in the changes, Ms Kenyon said, but added that Ralphson had committed an “abuse of trust.”

“We were friends and a crush developed,” Ralphson had told in police interview.

He said the girl instigated the sexual messages, but admitted to sending her pictures of his genitals and receiving images of her body, despite knowing she was underage.

Ralphson was also given a seven-year sexual harm prevention order, and three-year community order, placed on the Disclosure and Barring Service list and must pay an £85 victim surcharge.