Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Web investigations warning issued

Parents have been urged not to launch their own online investigations

Parents have been urged not to launch their own online investigations after an internet pervert was snared by a mother who pretended to be a 13-year-old girl.

The advice was issued after a Leeds mother turned detective to trap an internet paedophile preying on her teenage daughter.

The mother logged into a web chatroom pretending to be her daughter and arranged a meeting with Philip James Brown. Once she had his mobile number she handed the details to police who then arrested him, a court was told.

A spokeswoman for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said an increasing number of parents were taking this course of action.

She said: "We don't encourage this type of action. Our message to parents is if you fear your child is at risk you should report it to us or the police who can take the appropriate action.

"They will collect the evidence in the appropriate manner. Saying that, it must be quite terrifying for a parent to discover their child is being groomed and want to do something about it. We sympathise but this is an area for highly specialised law enforcement."

Brown, 29, from Graham Drive, Airedale, Castleford, was placed under a three-year community order with supervision and put on the sex offenders' register when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday. He must also undertake unpaid work.

The mother of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: "It makes me feel sick to the stomach. Although he never got as far as meeting my daughter, I feel like he has taken her virginity because she sent him photos of her naked."

The court heard that in June last year the mother discovered naked photographs of her daughter on the family computer. When she questioned her daughter she said she had been asked to pose for the pictures by a man to whom she was chatting online.

Brown admitted one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, 10 counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing indecent images.

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