Warning to Parents About Online Grooming

A convicted sex offender from West Sussex has been jailed for four years for grooming impressionable teenage girls on the internet.

David Lacey, 43, of Chichester, posed as a 19-year-old college engineering student to strike up online contact with girls via social networking websites from the home he shared with his father.

He was caught following an unannounced check by police who were ensuring he complied with a 10-year sex offences order for downloading obscene pictures of children six years ago. During their visit, officers found indecent images of several teenage girls from other parts of Britain, and it became clear that he had incited them to send them, Sussex Police said.

Lacey pleaded guilty to 10 counts of making indecent pictures of children, all girls under 16, two of causing or inciting a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity and two of causing or inciting a child aged 13 to 15 to look at an image of sexual activity.

In addition, the farm worker admitted possessing ammunition for a shotgun when banned for five years and possessing an air rifle, again while banned for five years. He was sentenced at Chichester Crown Court following a two-year investigation by Sussex Police's Paedophile On-line Investigation Team.

Detective Constable Helen Cook said: ''Lacey, already a convicted sex offender, had clearly and deliberately set out to entice vulnerable and impressionable young girls into his web of on-line sex. Had it not been for our vigilance, he might still be out there now. This case sends two messages. First, our supervision of registered sex offenders can detect any such activity. Second, parents and guardians need to work with their children, especially impressionable teenagers, to guard against unrestrained internet access which can lead to them falling into the cyber clutches of men like Lacey.''

Lacey, of Selsey Road, was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for life, and will be placed on the Sexual Offenders' Register for life. On his release from prison, he will also be made to comply with licence supervision requirements for a further five years.