A NATIONWIDE investigation into 120 potential victims of online grooming led by Dyfed-Powys Police has resulted in a 43-year-old man being jailed for 10 years.
Neil Antony Derrick Payne, of Bronwydd in Carmarthen, was described in court as a ‘devious, persistent and prolific sex offender’.
The court heard how he posed as a teenage boy on social media, and then tried to get his victims to meet his fictitious uncle in order to abuse them.
In some instances, he said his ‘uncle’ would be mad if the victims didn’t meet him.
Helen Randall, prosecuting, told the court that a 13-year-old girl was contacted by Payne, who was posting to be a 14-year-old boy, and send her lewd pictures.
She was then offered £200 to visit his ‘uncle’ for a sex act.
The girl went to the meet – with a friend – but faked a phone call from her father, saying he was a policeman, and took the £200 before running off.
Payne then threatened her and said he would report her to the police.
The court heard similar stories involving other girls aged 13 to 15, and analysis of his PC showed he spoke to ‘hundreds’ of young people.
He pleaded guilty to meeting a child after grooming with intention of sexual activity, causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activity, and possession of indecent images.
He was handed a 15 year sentence: a 10 year determinate sentence with a five year extension for causing or inciting a child to engage in a sexual activity.
He was also sentenced for 12 months, eight years and four years for the other charges, which will run concurrently.
Payne will also be subject to a serious harm prevention order for life, as well as sign on the sex offenders register for life.
HOW THE POLICE CAUGHT HIM
The force conducted an intense digital investigation into social media profiles set up by Payne, who acted as a teenage boy online with the sole aim of inciting young girls into sexual activity.
Payne was arrested after a teenage girl reported making contact with a man who had been purporting to be a 17-year-old boy on Facebook. Computers were seized from his home and were examined by the Digital Communications and Cyber Crime Unit (DCCU).
A forensic examination of devices seized from Payne revealed that he had set up 11 different profiles over Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Oovoo, Snapchat and Kik. His pseudo profiles featured photographs of young males aged 15-17 years.
Payne would trawl the internet for contacts and target friends of friends. Using these fake accounts, he had been sending friend requests to girls across the UK for around 18 months. On Facebook alone, 172 people accepted his friend request.
Images, videos and text conversations were extracted, as well as information from social media profiles which were used to identify how many of the girls behind the 500 usernames were potential victims.
A DCCU analyst formatted 15,000 lines of text over each social media network into individual conversations between Payne and the girls he befriended. She quickly established a pattern, with his most frequent conversation opener used 119 times. He would say they had friends in common, or that he had recently moved to the area and wanted to meet people.
Detective Sergeant Mathew Davies, of the Police Online Investigation Team, said: “His intent was to send a mass message out to young girls using these regular lines. He was in contact with hundreds of people over his various accounts – starting off requesting random people as friends, and then working through their friend list to add others.
“Our analyst pulled out conversations with each girl, so even if he moved people to different platforms to chat we could still track what had been said between them. He had a pattern of conversation, and would try to move the girls onto Snapchat or Skype, saying his uncle was lonely and needed friends. He was then pretending to be this boy’s uncle on these accounts.”
An enormous task was undertaken by officers and members of the DCCU to identify from images, videos, text conversations and social media the potential victims of grooming and incitement. Evidence was collated by DS Sian Davies, who oversaw the entire investigation, and over 90 intelligence and safeguarding packages were put together. These were delivered across the UK with the assistance of other police forces.
Detective Inspector Jayne Butler, of Carmarthen CID, said: “In many cases we only had online usernames to go by in trying to find and contact the people we needed to speak to. There were a number of enquiries to try and identify where they lived, with forces across the country helping to make contact with them.”
As the investigation progressed, a report of incitement was made to Dyfed-Powys Police in October 2017, which was linked to Payne. Within two days, he was arrested. He was charged with a total of eight offences – meeting a girl aged under 16 following grooming, five counts of causing or inciting a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity, and two counts of possessing indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of a child.
In December 2017 Payne pleaded guilty to all eight offences at Swansea Crown Court. On Wednesday, January 31, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with a further five years on license.
DI Butler said: “We are pleased with the sentence handed to Payne for these predatory offences. He took on the guise of a teenage boy to specifically target young girls online, gaining their trust before attempting to groom them.
“A complex investigation which spanned numerous other forces has resulted in putting him behind bars, which I hope is some consolation to his victims. This sentence just goes to show that people cannot hide behind pseudonyms to commit what they believe are faceless crimes via social media.
“What is worrying is how willing some young people are to engage with strangers on the internet. I would really like to urge parents of teenagers – male or female – to be aware of who their children are talking to.
“It might be difficult, but please try to find a way to talk to them about the dangers that can be posed on social media. Please urge them to stop and think if they receive a friend request from someone they don’t know – it might not be the person they say they are.
“We know from just this one investigation that teenagers are willing to accept friend requests from people they don’t know and have never met, which has the potential to put them at risk of harm.”
Dyfed-Powys Police would encourage any victims of sexual offences to have the confidence to come forward and report the offence. All reports are dealt with seriously and sensitively. Reports can be made by calling 101.
Cold temperatures likely to lead to icy conditions
A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Wales from 10pm tonight (Jan 16) and 11am tomorrow morning (Jan 17).
As temperatures drop, there is a strong chance of ice patches causing dangerous conditions for motorists.
Icy patches developing with wintry showers also affecting some areas.
What to expect
- Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
- Probably some ice on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths
Next stage of works to clear Cwmduad landslide
PHASE two of the works to stabilise a landslide in Cwmduad has begun following the recovery of a lorry from the river below.
Carmarthenshire County Council is leading the operation to clear the site and re-open the A484 for traffic travelling between Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, following the landslide in October.
Phase one, which commenced before Christmas, created a safe zone for the recovery of a lorry that was swept in to the river during the storm.
That recovery took place earlier today (Monday, January 14, 2019).
Phase two, to permanently stabilise the embankment, involves complex drainage and geotechnical works.
The highway structure will then be assessed before any indication can be given as to when the road will re-open.
The council has thanked the community, and affected commuters, for their patience whilst site assessments and works have been underway.
Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are now making progress in what has been a highly complex operation and legal process between the council, partner agencies and the landowner.
“We fully appreciate the impact this has had on the community, and we wish to reiterate that we have worked without delay to undertake site investigations in the immediate aftermath of the landslide, along with clearance and construction works to make the area safe.
“We are working as quickly as we can to re-open the road as soon as possible, and would like to thank those affected most sincerely for their patience.”
Until the road is re-opened, traffic will continue to be diverted along the B4333 Carmarthen – Newcastle Emlyn.
Additional bus services remain in place:
- A shuttle service currently runs from Cwmduad to Tycoch to catch the 460 service at 7.25am, 9.35am and 10.55am. Return journeys are at 2.25pm and 4.45pm.
- The 460 service is currently operating on a diversion route
Three seriously injured in A40 crash
DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for information about a collision which resulted in serious injuries.
The collision which happened on Sunday afternoon (Jan 13) involved a silver Ford Fiesta and a Silver BMW 120 and at approximately 4pm on the A40 between Pont-y-fenny and Whitland roundabout.
The Silver Fiesta was travelling towards Whitland and the BMW was travelling towards Carmarthen.
A 67-year-old woman has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
A 71-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were also taken to hospital suffering serious injuries.
Anyone who witnessed the collision, or was driving along the road around the time or with dash cam footage, is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit by calling 101.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, please text 07811311908. Please quote reference DP-20190113-199.
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