County Durham Man Jailed After Online Grooming

A man from County Durham who groomed a vulnerable boy for a potential sexual liaison, has been jailed for three years.

Neil Calvert initially made contact with the 12-year-old boy and became a "friend" with him on social media, using a pseudonym.

Durham Crown Court heard that concern was raised by the family of the boy, who had behavioural problems, having been diagnosed with ADHD and aspergers syndrome.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said the family was worried about his unexplained absences from home, from the age of 12, when they believed he was staying at the defendant’s house.

There was also a report of him getting into a blue car with an unknown male.

Mr Bennett said acting on information which came to light, police went to Calvert’s home address in Bishop Auckland, where a blue car was parked outside.

He told police he believed he was 17 and had mental health problems, for which he claimed he wanted to help him.

Police found no evidence of any offences, but issued a "harbouring notice", making it clear the boy by then was only 13, and he was not to have any contact with him.

But Mr Bennett said it was obvious that Calvert, paid no notice to the warning, continuing to communicate with him by other means, buying him a razor, colouring books and a phone to resume contact.

Calvert was arrested and his computer equipment was seized, revealing a total of 94 indecent images of children, 12 in the most serious category for such material, which were downloaded from the internet.

The 50-year-old, of Etherley Lane, admitted a charge of sexual assault and two of making indecent images of children.

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince also made Calvert subject of a restraining order, forbidding contact with the boy, a sexual harm prevention order, while he must also sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

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