County Durham man groomed teenage girl on the internet

03/09/2010

A County Durham man who groomed a 13 year old girl on the social networking website Bebo has been given an inderminate sentence.

Declared a dangerous offender, he must serve a minimum of three years in prison but  will only ever be released if he is declared by the parole board to no longer pose a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public.

The victim, who has learning difficulties, was bought the computer by her parents to chat online to other young people. Instead, she was targetted by 54 year old David Spence, a stranger and sexual predator using the online name Amber.

Once contact was made, the victim was introduced online to Amber's boyfriend Robert and her father David, all of whom were Spence.

"This gave the defendant credibility in the eyes of the victim," says Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Durham Deborah Hodge.

Over a period of four weeks, Spence engaged in sexual talk with the victim, encouraged her to perform sex acts on her webcam, persuaded her to send him indecent images of herself, requested her address and the addresses of her friends, and asked the victim to let him visit her house after school. He also asked her to commit a sexual attack on her one year old cousin as well as suggesting that they get together in a relationship and produce children that they would then sexually abuse.

Eventually, the victim revealed the contact with Spence to her mother after he sent a birthday card to her home containing a gift voucher. Her mother then informed the police.

At an earlier hearing, Spence admitted a total of 21 charges, including making and possessing indecent images of children, inciting a child to engage in sexual activitiy and arranging for a child to be involved in pornography.

Deborah Hodge added: "This is every parent's nightmare. The victim, a young girl in her early teens, was in her own home using her computer to make new friends online. Instead she was targetted by a sexual predator who preyed on her innocence to indugle his sordid desires.

"Thankfully, they never met up. But he did have her address and had asked for the addresses of her friends. He was only traced by the birthday card he sent her for her 14th birthday with an Argos gift voucher. The voucher was paid for with his credit card."

Note: Spence was living in Ouston in County Durham at the time of the offences.