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Four years in prison for Sandy man who sent sexually explicit messages to a young girl

24 Dec 2019

A man from Sandy will be spending the next four years behind bars for grooming a young girl online and sending her sexually explicit messages.

Craig Hall, 47, of The Crescent, Sandy, used an online networking app to start a conversation with the 12-year-old girl. He quickly moved the chat to WhatsApp, despite the girl stating her age on numerous occasions.

Over a period of 10 days, he sent a number of highly sexualised messages to the young girl and tried to pressure her into participating in sexual activity by asking her to send him inappropriate photos of herself.

Hall was arrested after police received information about his activity and a number of his devices were seized and examined, including a phone, tablet, camera, disc drive and SD card.

He was handed his sentence on Thursday at Luton Crown Court after being found guilty of engaging in sexual communication with a child and inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

He also pleaded guilty to breaching a previous Sexual Harm Prevention Order and is now the subject of a new one, which is valid for 10 years and will have certain conditions he must adhere to on his release from prison.

Detective Constable Paul Fitzharris, from the Internet Child Abuse Investigation team, said: “Hall was clearly aware of the girl’s young age, but continued to engage with her in an extremely sexual matter, asking her inappropriate questions and pressurising her into taking part in sexual activity.

“Throughout the conversation, he makes continuous requests that she deletes the conversation and it is obvious that he is keen to ensure the messages aren’t discovered.

“I am pleased that Hall has received a custodial sentence and will be spending a considerable amount of time behind bars. We work hard to investigate these horrible sexual predators who think it is acceptable to sexually groom young children online.

“Any child can become the victim of grooming, no matter what their sex, ethnicity or background. If you think that this might be happening to you or someone you know then it’s important you speak out and tell someone you trust.” The signs of grooming aren't always obvious and groomers will often go to great lengths not to be identified. If a child is being groomed they may:

• be very secretive, including about what they are doing online,

• have older boyfriends or girlfriends,

• go to unusual places to meet friends,

• have new things such as clothes or mobile phones that they can't or won't explain,

• have access to drugs and alcohol.

For further information on grooming and child sexual exploitation, including where to go for advice and support, visit www.bedfordshireagainstcse.org or the NSPCC website.

If you have any concerns about the possible sexual abuse of children, please call police immediately on 101, or 999 if someone is at immediate risk of harm.

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