Jail for Man who Lured Girls on Net
31 year old Nicholas Bennett from Swanley is jailed for encouraging girls to expose themselves on web cams.
Bennett from Herbert Road in Swanley has today (Monday 24 May) been sentenced to two and half years imprisonment for 10 offences including inciting sexual activity with a child.
He was charged with the offences after one of his victims reported him to police in 2009. He pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court on Monday 22 March.
The woman, who was 15 years of age at the time of the offence, approached police with information on Bennett's offending. Officers from Kent Police's Public Protection Crime Unit executed a warrant at his home address in February 2009 and removed computer equipment for forensic analysis.
Bennett was arrested on suspicion of possession of indecent images of children. During interview Bennett told officers he had been speaking with teenagers but denied any of his Internet chat was with children. Officers believe Bennett made contact with the young girls through a teen chat website. Evidence found by officers established he had, on at least one occasion, claimed to be 15 years of age during his chat and the young girls had repeatedly stated they were under 16 years of age.
The officer in charge of the investigation Detective Constable Mikaela Stevens said: 'Bennett has denied any wrongdoing throughout his interviews but the evidence presented in court shows the extent of planning he would undertake in order to commit these crimes'
'I would like to thank the young woman who made the initial report to police, for coming forward and speaking with officers. Her courage and cooperation with officers was vital in bringing this offender before the courts and in identifying other children he had abused and also preventing further children from coming in to contact with him in the future.'
Bennett manipulated the young woman as a child and later recontacted her as an adult, threatening to post images images onto the internet that she had previously sent him as a child if she refused to engage in further role play with him.
Bennett's victims were all aged between 11-16 years of age, one of which was living in Sydney, Australia.
On one occasion he claimed to be just 15 years of age. He persuaded the young girls to expose themselves via a web cam whilst capturing the messages and video with specific screen capture software. On one occasion he used video footage to try to blackmail a victim to carry out further actions upon his request.
Kent Police's Digital Forensics Unit examined computer equipment taken from Bennett's home and found the chat logs in addition to indecent images of children and evidence to corroborate the prosecutions case against him.
Bennett has been sentenced to two and half years imprisonment, must sign the sex offenders register for life and has been given a 10 year sex offences prevention order.
During examination of the computer equipment, officers found evidence of a number of Internet conversations Bennett had had with children. Bennett who had used specific screen capturing software had purposefully captured the chat.
On at least one occasion Bennett posed as a 15 year old boy. He had supplied bogus images of himself throughout the chats, even using an image of 'his' torso in a bid to hide his true identity.
Bennett's offending stretched as far as Australia. He claimed to be 15 years old and tried to encourage a 12 year old girl to show parts of her body to him via a webcam. He asked where the adults were in the room and talked of becoming her boyfriend. In a bid to gain her trust he also suggested meeting the girl and during the video capture of the web chat, officers could clearly see a map of Sydney come onto the screen showing he was researching the area in which she lived.
DC Stevens continued: 'This young girl was messaging someone she had no reason to believe was not the 15 year old boy he claimed to be. She had the foresight to refuse to carry out Bennett's requests therefore preventing herself from becoming his next victim.
'The footage retrieved from his computer as he carries out research into the area in which she lives, shows the lengths he was prepared to go to in order to gain her trust.'
It is suspected that Bennett used information found on social networking sites about the teenagers he spoke to. The information of many of these teenagers was not made private, it is suspected he abused this in order to collect data in a bid to befriend the children.
On one occasion he befriended a 13 year old girl in which he asked her to display her breasts via a web cam and went on to try to make arrangements to meet with her. The child refused to display further parts of her body to him and logged off (the chat log). Officers discovered Bennett had continued typing in his chat log to her and had stated: 'ok, I'll watch the video I made of you'.
Upon sentencing at Maidstone Crown Court today, His Honour Judge Statman stated Bennett was 'every teenage parents worst nightmare'.
Bennett was charged on 2 December 2009 and pleaded guilty to five offences of causing/inciting pornography, four counts of making indecent images of children and one count of causing/inciting sexual activity with a child.
Detective Inspector Matthew Long from Kent Police's Public Protection Unit said: 'Kent Police remains determined to seek out those individuals who abuse children and are engaged in child abuse image offences. We are committed to identifying offenders and bringing them before the courts.
DI Matthew Long added: 'This investigation highlights the importance of not sending information or images to people you do not know. The young girls involved in this investigation had open profiles on social networking sites allowing anyone access to private and confidential information. Bennett abused that knowledge which led to this catalogue of abuse bringing him before the courts today.
'We will continue to work, together with partner agencies, including CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), to stop this horrific crime.'
Anyone who has information on this type of crime can ring Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 and anyone who is involved in this type of crime and wants to stop can visit the website stopitnow.org.
Fake picture used by Bennett
Image from Google Earth Bennett sent to his Australian victim