A PERVERT has been caged after a schoolgirl he thought he was grooming turned out be the police.
Thomas Jones, of Clap Gate Lane, Goose Green, was sentenced to 12 months at Liverpool Crown Court after being caught in an internet sting.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to sexual grooming of a child, arranging to meet a child following sexual grooming, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, making/possessing an indecent photograph of a child – level three and making/possessing an indecent photograph of a child – level one.
The 59-year-old was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.
In September 2010, Jones logged on to an internet chat site and made contact with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl.
But in fact he had blundered into the middle of a covert operation carried out by trained Greater Manchester Police officers, who set up fake profiles of children on social networking sites.
Jones used a website called Just Chat to find the girl and then used the MSN chat facility to contact her in private.
Between September and October last year, the facility was used 25 times: his conversation was centred around arranging to meet the “girl”; and he constantly made sexual references towards her. During one MSN conversation Jones exposed himself to the girl on a webcam.
Having failed to turn up at his first arranged meeting, he arranged another meeting at McDonald’s in Eccles, Salford. Jones travelled to meet the girl but could not find the restaurant.
On Friday October 29 officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Sexual Crime Unit arrested Jones on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming. The police found a written note on a scrap of paper in Jones’s works’ van. The note was the postcode for McDonald’s in Eccles.
Det Con Steven Walker said: “Jones’s intentions were clear, from the nature of his internet chat conversations, his subsequent actions on the webcam and his travelling to Eccles from the Wigan area.
“We hope this sentence will act as a deterrent for anyone that uses the internet with the intention of preying on children
“Potential groomers are warned that they could be chatting to a police officer and I would urge parents and children to take steps to ensure their safety on the internet, particularly with the use of MSN and other chat networks.
“A number of instant messaging and social networking sites now have access to an emergency internet safety button which takes users to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), where suspicious behaviour can be reported.
“Anyone seeking online safety advice should visit www.ceop.police.uk where they can also report any suspicious activity to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).”