September 2023

Folkestone man jailed for online sexual offences

A paedophile litter picker who claimed in sexually explicit online chats with young girls to have been a youth worker has been jailed.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that Mark Clover, from Folkestone, communicated with a 12-year-old girl via WhatsApp over a four-and-a-half month period and tried to get her to send him an image of her naked breasts.

Mark Clover was found guilty of inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, sexual communication with a child and attempted sexual communication with a child following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

The 36-year-old, of Trinity Gardens, appeared before the same court on Wednesday 14 September 2023 and was jailed for two years and seven months.

Kent Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team made enquiries following intelligence suggesting indecent images may have been sent in 2019.

Clover was arrested at his home in July 2020 and his mobile phone was seized and analysed.

It showed evidence he had contacted a girl who was 12 at the time, sent her sexual messages and encouraged her to engage in sexual activity.

Not only were the explicit chats discovered on his phone but they also contained unusual spellings and words such as “Hay” instead of “Hey”, “Hugz” for “Hugs” and the regular use of “He he” – all of which were found in his more innocent, day-to-day messages.

Police also found sexually explicit internet search terms in respect of underage girls including “virgin rape” and “10-year-old porn videos”, the court heard.

After asking his younger victim to send him a topless photo he apologised and said: “I was truly not trying to be a paedo.”

The jury heard he then told the girl, who had expressed a concern about her breasts: “I’m a trained nurse but I have been a youth worker as well.”

Separate messages showed him sending similar messages to a girl he believed to be 14.

His sentence includes a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) designed to prevent any further offending following his release.