Westcliff man jailed for child sex offences

A man has been jailed for seven years for child sex offences and must serve a further seven years on an extended licence.

David Bennett was arrested following an investigation by officers from the Essex Police Online Abuse and Exploitation Team and Yorkshire and Humber Regional Crime Unit (YHROCU).

The 34-year-old, of Albion Road, Westcliff, was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on July 7 after previously admitting three counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He had also admitted three counts of failure to comply with notification requirements of the Sex Offenders’ Register.

As a registered sex offender, Bennett must notify police of all names and nicknames he uses, including on online forums, social media, and gaming sites, which he had failed to do.

The court heard how he had using a pseudonym on a chat room site and pretended to be a teenage boy to chat to someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl in March this year.

He engaged in a sexualised conversation and encouraged her to send him photos of her naked.

Bennett was arrested at his home address on April 1.

During this investigation, there was never a real-life victim and no children were ever in any danger.

Investigating officer PC Matthew Wright, of the Essex Online Abuse and Exploitation Team, said: “David Bennett is a predatory individual who attempted to target and groom someone he thought was a young girl for his own sexual gratification.

“He poses a very real danger to children and I am glad we’ve been able to put him behind bars.”

Detective Inspector Marie Bulmer, of YHROCU, said: “This forms part of our continued priority to protect children from sexual exploitation from those who seek to do them harm. 

“Law enforcement operates across the internet, and we will relentlessly seek to bring to justice individuals who use the web to facilitate the abuse of children.

“If anyone has been a victim of child sexual abuse, I would urge you to report it to police via 101. We will always follow up allegations of abuse, no matter when they occurred. Victims can talk in confidence to experienced investigators and we can also help them get access to a range of other support services.”

“If you have concerns about your use of the internet or inappropriate thoughts or behaviour about children or if you are worried about how someone you know behaves around children or are worried about their use of the internet then the Lucy Faithfull Foundation provide a free, anonymous and confidential Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900 for advice, support and information.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]