A wrestler from Bletchley was part of a duo who were yesterday given suspended sentences for online grooming of a little girl in Bedfordshire.
28-year-old Philip Page began messaging the girl in 2014 via Facebook. He groomed her online over a period of time and sent her sexually explicit messages – despite knowing that she was under 13.
Page, of Brooklands Road, was part of the same wrestling group of which Scott Dickins, 26, also belonged.
During a police investigation, officers discovered that Dickins, of Claberley Green, Luton, began messaging the girl in 2015, building a rapport with her with the intention of meeting and sexually abusing her.
Det Con James Mirza said: “The behaviour by these two men was completely unacceptable.
“They both knew that the girl they were messaging was under the age of consent but they still attempted to groom her online in a bid to meet her.”
Yesterday, Page pleaded guilty to one count of inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and received a 12 month sentence suspended for two years.
Dickins was given an eight month sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to three counts of arranging to meet a child following sexual grooming, and one count of travelling with the intention of meeting a child.
Following the court case, Bedfordshire Police has issued advice to parents about keeping their children safe online.
< Have an open and honest conversation with your children about why it is important to stay safe online and what a healthy relationship is
<Set parental controls on their devices to ensure that they can only access apps and websites that you have approved
<Explain to them that once a photo is online, including sent via a messaging app, it can be easily shared with others
<Ask your children about the websites that they use and research them to make sure they are age appropriate
If your children are using social media networks, check their security settings to make sure they are set to ‘Friends only’
<Tell them to only post content and photos that they wouldn’t mind sharing with their family and not to share private information online
<Reassure them that they can come to you if someone says something to them that they feel uncomfortable with
<Look for signs that your child is being groomed, such as becoming more secretive and withdrawn, and spending an increasing amount of time by themselves and online
For further information, including where to go for advice and support, visit www.bedfordshireagainstcse.org.
To report concerns about online activity or the possible sexual abuse of children, call police on 101, or 999 if someone is at immediate risk of harm.