A former Scout leader who groomed and sexually abused a boy under the age of 13 has been jailed for four years.
James Jones, 39, initially communicated with the victim via social media and they met several times as part of a group set up for theme park enthusiasts.
Their social media exchanges continued – mostly via Snapchat so all communication was deleted and could not be traced – with much of the content of a sexual nature.
On 29 April last year, Jones, an amusement arcade employee, visited Crawley, West Sussex, and stayed at a hotel with the intention of meeting the youth the following morning.
The pair met and walked along a street together before Jones pulled the child through a hedgerow to a secluded area and sexually assaulted him.
The boy managed to run free and get away, and Jones continued to contact him thereafter, apologising for his actions.
He also offered to buy him presents to make it up to him and to prevent him from telling his parents.
On 21 June, the victim was at home when a member of his family noticed he was looking at his phone, which he was prohibited from doing past a certain hour.
He saw messages on the phone from Jones, which were of a sexual nature and included a number of code words and symbols.
The boy told his parents what happened and Jones was arrested at his place of work on 5 July.
He had been the leader of a Scout troop in Northamptonshire until September 2015.
Jones, of Slough, Berkshire, was found guilty of engaging in sexual communication with a child and sexual assault of a child under 13 after a six-day trial at Lewes Crown Court.
He was jailed for four years on 28 March and was placed on the sex offenders register for life.
A sexual harm prevention order was also imposed when he is released with conditions.
Detective Constable Adam Tidy, from Sussex Police, said: “Jones denied the allegations put to him throughout, claiming that at no point was his contact with the victim – either in person or via social media – of a sexual nature.
“However, the evidence we collated proved otherwise, and justice has been served.
“While the victim and his family were caused a huge amount of distress by this ordeal, I hope Jones’ conviction will be welcomed by them.
“I would also like to praise the courage of this young man and two other children who also gave evidence in court – their bravery has helped to bring this offender to justice.”
A spokesman for the Scout Association said: “The Scout Association is aware of recent court proceedings involving James Jones.
“Jones was suspended from his role in scouting in 2014.
“He has not been a member of the movement since September 2015.
“The Scout Association carries out stringent vetting of all adults who work with young people and requires them to work to a strict code of practice outlined in the Young People First code of practice.”
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