June 2022

Sex predator targeted girls

A pervert repeatedly attempted to contact young girls and distributed vile indecent images of children to others.

Steven Cheetham, aged 45, did not try to hide his age from those he thought were as young as 12 after contacting them on Kik Messenger and turning conversations to sex.

In total Cheetham, who had the username ‘Dafty’, contacted 11 different accounts of people purporting to be young teenage girls, between March and November, 2019.

He even collected extreme pornographic images of young children and sent some of them to two other Kik Messenger users.

Bolton Crown Court heard how, when arrested, Cheetham, of Melrose Road, Little Lever, initially claimed his account had been hacked and denied having a sexual interest in children.

But the father-of-one finally pleaded guilty to attempted sexual communication with children, possessing and distributing indecent images of children and possessing extreme pornographic images.

One of the children, a 13-year-old called Becky, who Cheetham thought he was chatting with, was in fact, a decoy police officer.

The court heard that it has not been possible to establish whether the other 10 profiles he was communicating with were really under-age girls.

Sentencing Cheetham to two years and two months in prison, Judge Tom Gilbart told him the distribution of indecent images must be viewed extremely seriously.

He added: “These were utterly repellent images of vulnerable and innocent children being abused for the sexual pleasure of others and you didn’t just possess them, you actively took steps to distribute three images of the most serious category and two images of category B, which is abhorrent behaviour.”

Niamh McGinty, prosecuting, told the court, how Cheetham was caught after he sent a number of messages to ‘Becky’ in April, 2019.

He introduced himself as a 42-year-old man from the Oldham area and Becky told him she was a 13-year-old girl.

Over the next six weeks he contacted her several times

“Quite quickly the defendant started to make inappropriate remarks to Becky,” said Miss McGinty.

He sent her profile pictures of himself and, when asked whether he minded the age difference, replied: “I am old and young at heart. I am still energetic. Even if you run me around I will still be able to chase you.”

The chats became more sexual and he described how he would perform sexual acts on her.

“The defendant suggested he would collect Becky and take her to see a performance at the church hall theatre where he was employed,” said Miss McGinty.

When Becky told Cheetham that her dad was picking her up from school he asked her to wear her school skirt and told her: “I’m your dad aren’t I? Special dad.”

Cheetham checked whether she was deleting her messages.

“It was a clear indication that he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and it was an attempt to cover up his behaviour,” Miss McGinty said.

Cheetham’s IP address led police to his home on November 9, 2019, and when his iPad and iPhone were examined they found similar conversations with 10 other profiles of girls purporting to be aged between 12 and 15.

A hidden storage vault on his phone contained 16 of the most serious category A images, eight in category B, 23 in category C and four extreme pornographic images.

Using Kik Messenger Cheetham has sent four category B images to someone else and three category A images to another person