Sept 2007

Paedophile used web networking site to lure a girl of 15

A paedophile was jailed yesterday for having underage sex with a teenage girl he met on the social networking website Facebox.

Simon France, 38, already a convicted sex offender, was being monitored by the authorities and supposedly getting “help” for his crimes from probation officers in a special programme.

But between meetings of a sex offenders group, France was secretly logging onto Facebox to look for teenage girls to seduce.

He met the 15-year old girl on the site then persuaded her to meet him for sexual liaisons in his car and at two Travelodge hotels in the Stockport area, a court heard.

Police were alerted to the relationship after the girl’s best friend found about the affair and reported France to a child protection agency.

Later the girl who was unaware France was on the sex offenders register said: “Now that I know the full picture about Simon it sickens me.

“I have seen this sort of thing on the TV before. I feel very numb and have not been able to let out my emotions yet. I may seek counselling.”

Yesterday France, of Arnold, near Nottingham, was starting a three-year jail term after admitting sexual grooming and sexual activity with a child.

France had been convicted in October 2004 of distributing indecent images of children to his uncle Kenneth France, then 57.

Both men were were ordered to report to a probation officer for three years and attend a community sex offender group work programme.

But in January France began making contact with young girls between 14 and 16 over the networking website, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester was told.

Rachel Shenton, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was a regular user of the internet site Facebox.

“The complainant had her correct age on her page and the defendant had his correct age too ? but he claimed to be a pornographic film maker.

“They began contact which soon moved onto MSN. They had discussions about sexual intercourse even before they met.

“They met on several occasions and engaged in sexual activity. When interviewed the girl said that she loved the defendant and did not want him to get into trouble.

“When arrested, he accepted that he had met the girl in the car and then the Travel Lodges. As a result checks were made on the defendant’s computer.”

In mitigation, Austin Welch said: “The matter was consensual and initiated by both parties ? the complainant was 15-and-a-half at the time. There was no evidence of manipulation and pressure from France.”

But passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Geake said: “You knew very well what her age was. You knew it was not an appropriate relationship.”

Facebox is now known as Netlog.