Fourteen-year-old girl raped by Net paedophile

Another Net paedophile convictedA 45-year-old man has admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl that he met in an Internet chatroom.

Mark Stephens, of Harlesden, North West London, appeared before Chichester Magistrates Court on Wednesday, charged with the sexual assault of a girl that he made contact with over the Internet.

Stephens had befriended the girl by pretending to be 26. Through a series of online conversations, he successfully lured her into meeting him offline, where he went on to have sex with her twice in a van that he used for work.

The Net predator pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sex and one count of indecent assault.

His case has been referred to Chichester Crown Court for sentencing owing to the seriousness of the offence. The first hearing is scheduled for 1 May.

British courts have been flooded with Internet paedophile cases in recent weeks. In February, seven Britons were sentenced for their participation in the world's biggest ever Internet pornography ring dubbed the Wonderland Club. Last week, an Oxford University scholar was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy that he met in a gay Internet chatroom.

Increasing pressure from child protection agencies and the media has prompted the Home Office to "actively consider" criminalising the online "grooming" of children. The parents of Patrick Green's 13-year-old victim have been involved in government discussions demanding a crackdown on Internet paedophiles.

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