A MAN who groomed a girl online before sexually assaulting her was jailed at Taunton Crown Court yesterday.
A seven-year sentence was handed to Liam Weber after he pleaded guilty to five offences, including sexual communication with a child, arranging a meeting with a child for sexual purposes and sexual activity with a child.
Weber, from Bridgwater, engaged in an online relationship with his teenage victim via Snapchat.
Over a number of weeks he pressurised her into sexual communication before arranging to meet her in person in April this year. When they met, he provided her with alcohol and sexually assaulted her.
The girl managed to escape and called a friend for help who made sure she was safe. The crimes were then reported to the police and an investigation launched.
Judge James Townsend said Weber’s actions were ‘appalling’ and amounted to a ‘sustained catalogue’ of abuse taking advantage of a teenage girl. He also criticised the 30-year-old for lacking remorse for what he did.
Weber also received an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, which includes a number of restrictions around using devices and the internet once released from prison.
The girl’s identity cannot legally be revealed as victims of sexual offences are entitled to lifetime anonymity upon making a report to the police.
However, after the sentencing she said: “The officer I first spoke to was really sweet and gave me lots of time to talk and was really respectful.”
Her mother added: “There was not one second where my daughter felt the police didn’t believe her and I know this is a big thing for victims going forward.”
Officer in the case DC Harvey Ahern added: “For all detectives, catching criminals involved in online child exploitation is one of our highest priorities.
“I cannot praise the victim enough for the way they have handled this horrible ordeal. She has shown incredible bravery and courage – supported by her family – to enable us to get a dangerous man behind bars and to stop him potentially looking to target more victims.
“I hope this case raises awareness of staying safe online and lets offenders know we will do everything in our power to track them down and get justice for innocent victims.”