A 19-year-old man who sexually abused four girls he met through a social networking website has been jailed for three years and nine months at Aylesbury Crown Court today.
Ryan Kevin Chambers, formerly of Akerlea Close, Netherfield, Milton Keynes, amassed the names and phone numbers of more than 1,000 girls aged between 12 and 15 years old, through a variety of profiles he set up on Facebook.
Chambers, who used the social networking website to contact girls and obtain their mobile numbers, was found guilty of eight counts of sexual activity with a child following a two-and-a-half week trial at Amersham Crown Court, which concluded in March. He admitted four counts of possessing indecent images of children.
Thames Valley Police was first contacted by the mother of a 14-year-old girl in June 2011, who was concerned her daughter was being groomed over the internet.
Officers attended Chambers’ home on June 10 and arrested him on suspicion of sexual assault on a child.
During a search of his home, officers found lists featuring more than 1,000 girls’ names and mobile phone numbers.
Chambers was released on bail with the conditions not to contact any girl under the age of 16.
On June 30, police received a report of a missing 14-year-old girl and as part of the investigation officers went to Chambers’ home where they found the girl inside (the girl was not one of the four victims).
Chambers was arrested and a subsequent search of his property found more lists of names and four mobile phones, which were seized and later analysed by Thames Valley Police’s High Tech Crime Unit.
He was found to have had ‘prolific’ contact with girls and had set up 11 profiles on Facebook under variations of his name, including ‘Ryan Onit’ and ‘Ryan missesyou’, as well as one alias.
He was also found to be in possession of four indecent images of children, which were rated at the second most serious level (Level 4 out of 5).
Chambers was charged on 30 June with offences of sexual activity with a child and remanded in custody.
The subsequent police investigation involved contacting more than 1,000 young girls from the Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire area. Letters were sent out to more than 800 parents as a result of the inquiry to establish whether their children had been in contact with Chambers.
Investigating officer Det Sgt Sally Kestin, of the Child Abuse Investigation Unit (CAIU) based in Bletchley, said: “Ryan Chambers is a very dangerous and predatory young man who has a prolific desire to groom his victims in order to sexually abuse them.
“He would use a number of profiles set up on Facebook to contact girls and request they add him as a friend.
“If a girl accepted his friend request he would initiate conversations with them through Facebook as a ploy to obtain their phone numbers.
“His ultimate aim was to entice them around to his home where he would encourage them to have sex with him.
“The sheer number of girls involved meant we had to carry out a thorough and sensitive investigation, working closely with local schools and relevant agencies from MK Council, who were very supportive of our enquiries.
“We sent out a letter to more than 800 parents asking them to speak to their children to see if they had made contact with Chambers through Facebook or by text between summer 2010 and July 2011.
“We had a fantastic response from parents who were pleased police were dealing with a case like this and provided us with information crucial to our inquiry.
“As a result of the investigation we established Chambers had sexually abused four girls, all aged between 13 and 15 years old, and I would like to pay tribute to their bravery in disclosing the offences against them.”
Detective Sergeant Kestin added: “I would advise parents to keep a close eye on their children’s internet use and ensure they are all aware of the risks associated with using social networking websites. For example, be aware that “POS” means “parent over shoulder” and could mean their son or daughter are altering their responses whilst you are actively monitoring. It is worth finding out whether your child can explain who all their “friends” are on their site and which ones are strangers.
“While they are becoming a part of everyday living, social networking websites can provide a cloak of anonymity to offenders such as Ryan Chambers, who used one site for the sole purpose of grooming girls.”
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Amanda Blake said: “The investigation into Ryan Chambers involved numerous departments within the police, partner agencies and the Milton Keynes Safeguarding Children Board, so it was a real team effort.
“The case was both complex and sensitive due to the nature of Chambers’ crimes and the number of people affected by the investigation. He is a very dangerous young man who preyed on very young girls and the fact he is now off the streets is a really good result.”
Superintendent Barry Halliday, commander of Milton Keynes, said: “The conviction of Chambers only re-enforces the position of the police; supported by our partners within the schools and MK Council, we will investigate all such matters with determination and professionalism to secure justice for our young victims and their families.
“We all need to work together to keep the young people of our city remain safe and ensure the advice available to those using the internet is readily accessible. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) website is a perfect way to ensure this happens.
“Milton Keynes police and our partners remain committed to safeguarding young people in Milton Keynes and this conviction is a clear demonstration of the strength of our powers and our determination to do so.”
Following today’s sentencing, Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre, Peter Davies said: “This case shows clearly that where children go online, those with a sexual interest in them will follow. I commend Thames Valley Police on this successful prosecution and for their vital work in bringing this offender to justice.
“I would encourage any parents who have concerns about their child’s online behaviour, or any child who is worried about what they are doing in their online community, to report to CEOP or their local police force. It is through educating young people and helping them to report more easily that we will safeguard more children and ensure that offenders are brought to account.”
Parents can look out for the following signs that may indicate their child is being groomed; however, it should be noted that these signs can also be normal teenage behaviour:
A significant increase in their use of technology; internet/mobiles
Secretive behaviour, particularly around use of the computer/mobile
Increase or change in use of sexualised language
Displaying sexual behaviour, perhaps inappropriate for their age and/or understanding.
Parents can find useful information at www.thinkuknow.co.uk, and children should follow the S.M.A.R.T. rules:
S – Safe. Do not give out personal information when chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number and password.
M – Meeting. Meeting with someone who has only been in touch online can be dangerous.
A – Accepting. Accepting emails, IM messages, or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or nasty messages!
R – Reliable. Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only chat to your real world friends and family.
T – Tell. Tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.