The 14-year-old victim of a sexual predator who groomed girls online has been praised for her courage in coming forward.
The NSPCC said it was thanks to the victim's bravery that a conviction was secured.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how Daniel Meakin, 21, of Scarcliffe Street, Mansfield, targeted the girl via a social media app and made numerous demands and threats to her which resulted in her sending him indecent images of herself.
An spokesperson for the charity said: “Meakin’s offending was exposed because of his victim’s courageous decision to speak out.
Man jailed for grooming girl online
“It’s important that all children are supported to develop their digital resilience and to recognise grooming. Sex and relationship education is crucial in school and it’s important that parents have a conversation with their children about how to stay online.
“We’ve teamed up with O2 to create Net Aware – the UK’s only parental guide to social media and gaming apps. For free help and advice, call the NSPCC O2 helpline on 0808 8005002.”
A law making it illegal to send sexual messages to children was finally brought into force last week after a campaign by the charity. It will ensure police have further powers to stop grooming behaviour sooner.
Meakin was arrested on January 16 and found to be in possession of eight indecent images of children, aged between eight and 12 years, and cannabis was recovered from his bedroom.
He pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a girl aged 13-15 years to engage in sexual activity between October 10 and December 20 last year, attempting to meet a girl under 16 years following sexual grooming, between November 10 and December 15, and making indecent photographs of children on January 16, 2017.
He was jailed for four years and nine months and given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order when he appeared for sentencing on 4 April 2017. He will also remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Detective Inspector Kevin Broadhead, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “I’d like to praise the bravery of the victim in this case. If she hadn’t come forward to the police then we may not have known the extent of Meakin’s offending.
“This case highlights the dangers children face in talking to people online that they do not know personally. It is the responsibility of everyone to spot the signs that a child may be vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Children and young people may find it difficult to recognise that they are being exploited.
“There are a number of practical steps you can take to protect children such as making sure you understand the risks associated with your child being online, putting measures in place to minimise these risks, and remaining vigilant around their children’s Internet use in all its forms, including online gaming and mobile phone apps.”