A British paedophile has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after raping a 15-year-old girl that he met in an Internet chatroom.
Gloucester Crown Court heard on Thursday how Andrew Hall, 33, used a Virgin Web site to "groom" a girl and persuade her into having sex with him at his home. Robert Duvall, defending, accepted that there were "aggravating" features about the case because of the way in which the Internet was used to attract the victim.
"This was a very stupid and wicked thing to do," said Judge John NcNaught, sentencing Hall. "The probation officer still regards you as a serious risk," he added.
Hall pleaded guilty to one charge of indecent assault and two of abduction between 17 and 20 November last year. The probation officer's report stated that Hall had met young girls through the Web before, although no offences were apparently committed.
The victim's parents alerted the police to the problem when she was found missing after leaving her home in Walsall to stay with Hall for the weekend. As soon as she returned, Hall was arrested. He was released on bail until the girl confessed several days later that they had had sex, after which he was re-arrested and held in custody.
The Home Office unveiled plans for a new taskforce last month, charged with the specific responsibility of implementing recommendations contained within the Internet Crime Forum report Chat Wise, Street Wise. The paper directly dealt with the approach that Britain should take in dealing with Internet paedophiles. The Internet Watch Foundation has also scheduled a meeting in May for reviewing its policy on newsgroups found to be containing illegal content.
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