13-year jail sentence for grooming

A man found guilty of inciting a child to engage in sexual activities and possession of indecent images of children, received a jail sentence in court yesterday.

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44 year-old Clifford Whitehead of Watford used an internet chatroom to groom a 12-year-old girl. He initially approached his victim in an open chat room before gaining her trust and persuading her to send him private messages.

Whitehead was jailed for 13 years and two months at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Over a five year period, Whitehead attempted to groom the girl to engage in sexual activity. He was arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activities on 7 July 2011 after the girl's parents became aware of the allegations following their daughter's discussion with a counsellor.

As part of the investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Central Sapphire Command, Whitehead's computers were seized, revealing a quantity of indecent images stored on one of the hard drives.

Detective Inspector Patrick Milford of the Metropolitan Police commented: "The victim was deeply affected by the events in the earlier stage of her life and her courage in coming forwards and seeing the matter through to the judicial stage is to be commended."

The judge praised the girl for her courage and strength of character and wished her well in the future regarding undertaking the studies she had been unable to complete due to the trauma she had experienced.

An indefinite sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) has been applied for, specifically requesting that Whitehead is not to be allowed to use the internet nor any device capable of internet access to communicate with a child or young person under the age of 16 years.

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