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18 May 2012, 13:06 | Updated: 18 May 2012, 13:24
A 'dangerous and predatory' teenager who sexually abused four girls he groomed through Facebook was jailed for 3 years and 9 months today.
Ryan Chambers, 19, collected the mobile phone numbers of more than 1,000 girls, aged between 12 and 15, through numerous profiles he set up on Facebook.
An investigation was launched in June last year when the mother of a 14 year old girl called the police to say she feared she was being groomed over the internet.
During a search of Chambers' home in Milton Keynes on June 10 they found a list of more than 1,000 girls' names and mobile numbers. He was bailed with a condition not to contact any girl under 16.
But on June 30 a missing 14 year girl, who was not one of the victims, was found at Chambers' home. Another search was carried out more names along with four mobile phones were seized.
Chambers was found to have had 11 profiles on Facebook under variations of his name including: 'Ryan Onit' and 'Ryan misses you.'
The girls he contacted where local - from the Milton Keynes and Northants area. As a result the police sent more than 800 letters to parents to find out if Chambers had been in contact with their children.
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.”
Chambers of Akerlea Close, Netherfield, Milton Keynes appeared for sentence at Aylesbury crown court having been found guilty of eight counts of sexual activity with a child. He admitted four counts of possessing indecent images of children - all at Level 4 the second most serious level.
Det Sgt 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.”
Supt 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:
Parents can find useful information at www.thinkuknow.co.uk, and children should follow the S.M.A.R.T. rules: