Rotherham man jailed for child grooming

Tom Steven Wilkes has been jailed
Tom Steven Wilkes has been jailed
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A Rotherham man who 'preyed on' teenage girls online has been jailed for 10 years.

Tom Steven Wilkes, aged 22, formerly of Pitt Street, Kimberworth, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to incite a girl under 13 to commit sexual activity, one count of sexual assault on a girl under 16, one count of causing a child under 13 to look at a sexual image and one count of possessing an extreme image.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that Wilkes contacted the teenagers, from Rotherham, via social networking sites.

He bombarded the girls with messages asking them to meet and engage in sexual activity with him, sending crude messages and explicit images to the victims.

In January 2015, one of the victims approached an adult and reported the abuse.

Police were called and a joint investigation by South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and children’s charity Barnardos was launched.

The investigation progressed and a number of other victims were identified.

As part of their enquiries,police officers seized Wilkes’ phone and recovered explicit messages he had sent.

Detective Inspector John Fitzgibbons said: “Wilkes preyed on young teenage girls online, exploiting their vulnerability to try and get them to meet him and engage in sexual acts.

“His behaviour is despicable and dangerous, and I am relieved he entered guilty pleas and spared his victims the further distress of a trial process.

“The victims in this case should be commended for their bravery in coming forward to tell adults about this crime.

“I hope that this case encourages other victims and survivors of sexual exploitation to come forward and report their abuse, with the confidence that they will be listened to and that police will investigate thoroughly.”