Sheffield man who groomed 11-year-old girl on chat app is jailed for two years

A Sheffield man who groomed an 11-year-old girl online has been jailed for two years.

John Higgins, aged 30, of Halifax Road, Parson Cross, met the girl, from Newcastle, online on a chat app and lied about his age. He engaged in sexual conversations with her and encouraged her to send him indecent images.

He pleaded guilty to causing a child under 13 to create pornography and making an indecent image of a child at Derby Crown Court.

Higgins was living in Derby at the time of the offences.

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He was sentenced to two years in prison and must sign the Sexual Offenders Register for 10years. A Sexual Harm Prevention Order was also imposed for 10 years.

Detective Inspector Gemma Booth, from Derbyshire Constabulary’s Child Exploitation Unit, has warned youngsters that the internet can give offenders the opportunity to hide their true identity.

She said: “The person you speak to online may not be who you think they are. Everyone, and that includes adults too, should be cautious when accepting friend requests or invitations into conversations with someone they don’t know.

“Think about their motives to befriend you when they’ve never met you.”

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“Often children and young people can feel pressured into sending images in order to ‘fit in’ or sometimes feel that it’s an easier option to ‘give in’ and do what someone is asking rather than say no.

“No one should feel harassed, blackmailed or pressured into sending images. While you may be in the safety of your own home, once an image is sent you lose control of that image. It could be passed on to others without your knowledge and end up being shared widely across social media.”

DI Booth wants young people to think about how they would react if they felt pressured into sending sexual images. She suggests they use an app, such as Childline’s Zipit, that is free to download and helps to control the situation if chat gets out of hand.

She added: “Parents and carers should play their part too. They should find out who their children are talking to online and speak frankly about the dangers the children may face when interacting with strangers.”

To report a crime or provide information regarding online grooming or the sending of indecent images please contact Derbyshire police on 101.