Jail for paedophile who groomed girl, 14

A predatory paedophile who stealthily groomed a 14-year-old girl with depraved and crude sexual chats before taking her to woods for sex was jailed for four years today.

Balding Gerrard Roberts used a social networking site called Netlog to groom young girls before cajoling them into meeting him for sex between May and September last year.

The 50-year-old chicken farm worker, who was dismissed from the RAF following an arson attack in 1980, groomed the girl in a case of "sustained predatory sexual offending", Judge Stephen Robbins said.

Usha Shergill, prosecuting, said Roberts "rather connivingly built up an online relationship" with the 14-year-old girl and then sexually abused her.

But he was simultaneously grooming an undercover investigator posing as a 13-year-old girl, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

Ms Shergill said Roberts clearly thought he was messaging a 13-year-old girl and "employed highly manipulative tactics" in order to gain her trust.

He was "engaging and complimentary" at first, before progressing to "highly sexualised chats" in which he "expressed his wish to engage in sex", she said.

Roberts arranged to meet her at Twickenham railway station in south west London, but was arrested when he arrived on September 24.

He told officers: "I'm only looking around. I've never done this before. I only wanted to meet her."

Police found semi-nude images of the 14-year-old girl who Roberts was also grooming at the same time when they searched his computer and traced her through her mobile phone number.

Ms Shergill said: "He groomed her, he met her and he engaged in sexual activity with her on two occasions.

"It was a predatory exercise to stealthily groom a 14-year-old girl."

He aimed to win her trust "in order to meet her and abuse her", Ms Shergill said.

Roberts had bombarded her with 24 "depraved and crude" messages, telling her to send him semi-nude photos of herself and asking her for sex.

After sexually touching her in Wat Tyler Country Park in Basildon, Essex, Roberts bought her a meal from McDonalds which the pair ate in his car.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police she felt embarrassed and remorseful afterwards but agreed to meet Roberts again after he told her he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

Richard Barrett, defending Roberts, admitted his client did not show much insight or empathy into his offences.

Roberts, of Steep Marsh, Petersfield, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a female child, two counts of sexual grooming, attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, and attempted sexual activity, at an earlier hearing.

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